Multispecies and Watershed Approaches to Freshwater Fish Conservation

Incorporating Predictive Models into a Resilient Fisheries Management Framework: A Brook Trout Perspective

Eric R. Merriam, J. Todd Petty, and Cory T. Trego

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874578.ch17

Abstract.—Increasingly, fisheries managers must make important decisions in complex environments where rapidly changing landscape and climate conditions interact with historical impacts to influence resource sustainability. Successful fisheries management in this setting will require that we adapt traditional management approaches to incorporate information on these complex interacting factors—a process referred to as resilient fisheries management. Large-scale species distribution data and predictive models have the potential to enhance the management of freshwater fishes through improved understanding of how past, present, and future natural and anthropogenic factors combine to determine species vulnerability and resiliency. Here we describe a resilient fisheries management framework that provides guidance on how and when these models can be incorporated into traditional approaches to meet specific goals and objectives for resource sustainability. In addition to elucidating complex drivers of distributional patterns and change, species distribution models can inform the prioritization, application, and implementation of management activities such as restoration (e.g., instream habitat and riparian), protection (e.g., areas where additional land use would result in a change in species distribution), and regulations (e.g., harvest restriction) in a way that informs resiliency to land use and climate change. Although considerable progress has been made with respect to applying species distribution models to the management of Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis and other aquatic species, there are several areas where a more unified research and management effort could increase the ability of distribution models to inform resilient management. Future efforts should aim to improve (1) data availability, consistency (sampling methodology), and quality (accounting for detection); (2) partnerships among researchers, agencies, and managers; and (3) model accessibility and understanding of limitations and potential benefits to managers (e.g., incorporation into publicly available decision support systems). The information and recommendations provided herein can be used to promote and advance the use of models in resilient fisheries management in the face of continued large-scale land use and climate change.