Aquatic Habitat Modeling

Effects of land use and climate change on aquatic habitats
Additional Funds Needed for Completion: $90,000–180,000

Background and motivation: Aquatic habitats in the Skagit Basin are expected to change greatly over the next fifty years as a result of climate change and land use. Because of climate change, headwater tributaries are subject to changes in glacial extent and changes in hydrologic regimes, floodplains are subject to increased inundation frequency and severity, and the tidal delta and nearshore are subject to sea level rise. All areas are subject to changes in land use, but some (e.g., floodplains) will be disproportionately affected because of existing patterns of development and land ownership. These changes will have very important consequences on the distribution of habitats available for fish, and will likely result in concomitant responses in fish populations. For some fish (e.g., smallmouth bass), climate change could facilitate population spread, but will likely in spatial or temporal constriction for many others, including Pacific salmon and trout.

Objectives: 1) Build models of habitat change in tributaries, floodplains, the tidal delta, and nearshore of Skagit Bay, and incorporate various scenarios of future land use and climate change. 2) Test models with data collected across current habitat types.

Project Team: The project team consists of Correigh Greene (NW Fisheries Science Center), Tim Beechie (NW Fisheries Science Center), Eric Beamer (Skagit River System Cooperative), Eric Grossman (USGS), John Rybzyk (WSU) and Greg Hood (Skagit River System Cooperative).

Expected Outcome: Projections of habitat change throughout Skagit River, tidal delta, and nearshore.