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Passage in Plains and Prairie Waterways and Predicting Fish Response to Climate Change

Started: December, 2010 Ended: December, 2012 Project ID #4W3496 Status: Completed


The objective of this research is to construct flumes and swim chambers for testing swimming performances of large and small bodied fish species, as well as construct a spawning channel for physiological assessments. In addition, using the newly constructed facilities, the project will characterize swimming performance of shovelnose sturgeon, rainbow trout and westslope cutthroat and evaluate the effect of temperature on swimming performance.


Land transformation of native prairies to agrarian use has altered the natural connectivity of fish communities inhabiting prairie waterways. Our nation's waterways are obstructed by an estimated 2.5 million aquatic barriers, those present in the prairies of Montana, and North and South Dakota alone run into the thousands. The predicted impacts of climate change will exacerbate the effect of aquatic barriers on landscape connectivity and further threaten aquatic organisms from fish to mussels. This proposed research aims to build on two existing projects underway 1) to improve fish passage and landscape connectivity for native species and 2) determine the thermal effects on fish species and their sensitivity to climate change effects. The techniques and equipment currently being developed to assess the swimming capacities and thermal adaptability of westslope cutthroat trout (ongoing and beginning July 2010) can be transferred to assess the passage and swimming capacities of prairie species such as pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus), shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus), Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka), sturgeon chub (Macrhybopsis gelida), sauger (Sander canadensis) and others. The results of this study may be used to improve landscape connectivity, identify populations and habitats most at risk to climate change impacts and land use stressors, and develop conservation delivery options in response to science informed predictions and realities.


Sponsors & Partners

  • Bozeman Fish Technology Center (BFTC) Sponsor
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) Sponsor

Part of: Road Ecology

Project Tagged In: climate change, fish passage, hydraulics

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