Who’s Asking? Interjurisdictional Conservation Assessment and Planning for Great Plains Fishes
Ben J. Labay, Joshuah S. Perkin, Dean A. Hendrickson, Arthur R. Cooper, Gary P. Garrett, and Timothy W. Birdsong
Abstract—Aquatic biodiversity is threatened by anthropogenic activities operating across jurisdictional and conservation area boundaries. Strategic conservation planning for broad, multispecies and multijurisdictional landscapes benefits from data-driven approaches emphasizing persistence of priority species while accounting for human uses and stakeholder priorities. This study presents such an assessment for conservation of priority fishes of the U.S. Great Plains. Distribution models for 28 priority fishes were incorporated into a prioritization framework using the open-source software Zonation. A series of assessments were produced, including (1) identification of distinct conservation areas based on connectivity and compositional similarity of priority streams, (2) perspectives for fish habitat condition prioritized towards undisturbed habitat (indicating protection potential) and disturbed habitat (indicating restoration potential), (3) ranking species conservation values at local (state) and global scales, and (4) development of “bang-for-buck” perspectives emphasizing richness of species at state, basin, and study region scales. Assessment highlights include prioritizations primarily among unfragmented main-stem reaches, considerable state-boundary-based edge effects for rankings when using state-based conservation values, and identification of eight distinct regions containing natural communities of priority taxa. Further, we integrate an assessment product into a tiered framework for conservation implementation that facilitates coordination among stakeholders across jurisdictions and increases efficiency of conservation efforts. This set of analyses thus provides varying perspectives to.