Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fish and Spatial Scales

The American Institute of Biological Sciences' Public Policy Report today lists this whale of an achievement: the USGS has released at last its interactive choropleth map displaying "Risk of Current Habitat Degradation for stream and coastal fish
habitat." They provide links to USGS-NBII-hosted public WMS map services and downloadable data and metadata.

A mammoth undertaking and immensely powerful tool for natural resources and fisheries biologists, water conservation scientists and engineers, this map, using vast datasets covering spatial levels from Ecosystem Drainage level (think Chesapeake Bay watershed) to the Reston-sized water catchments, was compiled by the National Fish Habitat Board. Their report, called affably “Through a Fish’s Eye: The Status of Fish Habitats in the United States 2010" brought news that more than a quarter of all streams in the U.S. are at high or very high risk of habitat degradation.

Poor land and water management practices
nation-wide include intensive row crops, fertilizer use, channelization,
water withdrawals, loss of perennial vegetation, and invasive species.

The map scores specialized-ecoregion and volunteer/community efforts called Fish Habitat Partnership Boundaries - like the intriguing Desert Fish Habitat represented by the Mexican Stone Roller in cold rivers like the Chiricahua and its high montane conifer forests increasing parched by years-long drought; and "Driftless Area" whose 24,000 square-miles covering parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois full of spring-fed coldwater streams and a resulting diversity of plants, animals, and habitats are being impacted by field agriculture and habitat fragmentation.

Eastern Brook Trout Habitat Partnership ( web-based interactive data management system with GIS capabilities has also been developed.