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In the mostly arid Southwestern United States, water availability (hydrology – a key fish habitat process), wildfires, and grazing intensity are important disturbances that are known to have major, negative effects on fish habitats. While this assessment indicated that many of the streams in this region are in good condition, a number of key habitat variables (i.e. water availability, wildlife frequency and intensity, and grazing intensity) could not be directly included in this assessment because national datasets of these disturbances and their measured variable are unavailable. Their absence from this assessment, along with absences of other disturbances, has likely produced an overestimation of habitat condition...
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Key elements of the 2015 national assessment of stream fish habitats follow the 2010 assessment, including: 1) the idea that distributions and numbers fishes reflect the quality of habitat in which they live; and 2) human landscape factors pose a risk to the condition of stream habitat, and indirectly, to fishes. The 2015 inland stream assessments for the contiguous United States, Alaska, and Hawaii all followed five broad steps (Figure 1) that are described in detail below for the inland stream assessment for Alaska. Note that analytical details for the Alaska assessment differed in southeast Alaska as compared to the remainder of the state (referred to as greater Alaska) due to differences in the resolution of...
Tags: 2015, Alaska, Method
Accounting for natural variation With the exception of differences in spatial units, assessments for greater Alaska and southeast Alaska were conducted similarly across regions. Because stream fish assemblage data were not available for the state, no steps were taken to account for natural variation in stream habitats for either southeast or greater Alaska. This represents an important need for future work.
Tags: 2015, Alaska, Method
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State-wide data on fish populations were limited in Alaska for use in this assessment, as was a detailed spatial (mapping) framework that fully characterizes watersheds throughout the state at the time this assessment was conducted. Because of these factors, we modified our assessment methods to account for these limitations. Twenty-one landscape disturbance variables were assembled from medium-sized watersheds throughout the state (i.e., 12-digit hydrologic unit code watersheds). Variables were then assigned to one of six categories based on their disturbances to stream habitats. Categories include: urban land use, agricultural land use, point source pollution and water quality, barriers to fish movement, human...
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The habitats of the Southeast Atlantic states range from the mountains and uplands in the Blue Ridge and Piedmont areas in the western portion of this region to the Southeastern and Coastal Plains. Fish habitats in the higher elevation regions are typically fast-moving, clear, coldwater streams originating from seeps and springs, while warmwater rivers of the plains carry more organic material and sediment. This diversity of habitats along a very long period of stable geologic activity produces one of the most diverse assemblages of aquatic species in the nation. The Altamaha, Chattahoochee, Flint, Savannah, Catawba, Pee Dee, Broad, and Neuse are major rivers of the region. There are a large number of dams on waterways...
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Partnerships - Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership, Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership, and Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership Removed four barriers that opened access to six mile of streams and restored 21 miles of streams to improve habitat for Eastern Brook Trout and other fish species. A shoreline restoration demonstration area was constructed near the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Visitors Center in North Carolina. Native vegetation was used to stabilize 175’ of shoreline to be used as a showcase for other lakeshore property owners. Planted 0.2 acres of tidal marsh and installed 0.1 acres of oyster reefs in Stump Sound, North Carolina. Also planted 0.15 acres...
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Available data for the American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) indicate that, overall, there have been declines in recruitment, population, and escapement during three generations (36 years). A recent report indicated that barriers to migration (dams and weirs), passage through turbines at hydropower dams, habitat degradation or loss, and overharvest were likely the greatest threats by humans across the species’ range. Although eels are able to ascend many smaller barriers, recent studies have documented a tenfold reduction in eel density above each potentially passable barrier. For example, the number of juvenile eels migrating to Lake Ontario passing over hydropower dams fell from 935,000 in 1985 to approximately 8,000...
The Bering Cisco (Coregonus laurettae) is endemic to Alaska and is present primarily along the State’s west and north coasts. It is known to spawn in only three river systems – the Yukon, Kuskokwim, and Susitna Rivers. Genetic research indicates that each of these populations is distinct. The Bering Cisco has been observed to migrate more than 1,200 miles into freshwater streams to spawn. Unlike salmon, some of these fish survive spawning runs. Since this species is slow-growing but short-lived, it is highly vulnerable to alterations in stream flow or water quality and large-scale environmental disasters.
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The Ironcolor Shiner (Notropis chalybaeus) is found in deep pool areas of creeks and small rivers and is often associated with aquatic vegetation. This species needs clear sandy areas for spawning. Populations of Ironcolor Shiner are in decline due to increased turbidity, siltation, and pollution.
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The Waccamaw Silverside (Menidia extensa) has a very limited distribution confined to Lake Waccamaw in North Carolina, a lake with neutral pH levels from underlying limestone formations in an area of acidic natural waters. This species is found in large schools and often over dark-colored substrates. Its limited habitat is threatened by nutrient loading caused by the runoff of organic matter and agricultural chemicals.
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The Northeastern States contain over 17,000 dams with most built before 1910 for agricultural and industrial water power uses. A few have been built more recently for flood control, recreation, water supply, and energy generation. In many cases, the dams have outlived their expected life expectancy and use, but continue to block the passage of migratory fish species, such as American Shad, river herring, American Eel, Rainbow Smelt, and Atlantic Salmon, to and from their historic upstream spawning grounds. Additionally, the fragmentation of stream systems by dams have reduced Brook Trout populations in some locations. Progress is being made on this impairment as over 67 dams were removed during 2010 to 2014 in...
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A. Pervasive disturbances: The most common disturbances based on total stream length in a given region. Top five overall most pervasive disturbances to all stream reaches, regardless of stream size and across all spatial scales (ranked highest first): Total excessive (anthropogenic or man caused) sediment yield Impervious surface cover Road crossing density Population density Pasture and hay land use Top three most pervasive disturbances to creeks (<100 km 2 watersheds) across all spatial scales : Total excessive sediment yield Impervious (hard) surface cover Road crossing density Top three most pervasive disturbances to rivers (>100 km 2 watersheds) across all spatial scales: Upstream dam density...
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Lands within the watersheds of the Great Plains streams that are not used for crops are often used for cattle grazing and hay production. Northern Plains States are one of the nation’s top producers of cattle, which outnumber people almost three to one in North Dakota. Cattle can have direct habitat impacts by trampling stream banks, which destroys beneficial vegetation and increases sedimentation and nutrient loads. Hofmann and Ries (1991) found that livestock increased sediment runoff in North Dakota streams. Schepers and Francis (1982) reported that runoff from a Nebraska cattle farm increased total phosphorus levels in runoff by 37%. In addition, cattle watering ponds, often constructed by diverting streams,...
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Southern Plains States Fish Habitat Partnerships’ 2010 - 2015 Actions to Make a Difference Partnerships - Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership, Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, Great Plains Fish Habitat Partnership, Desert Fishes Habitat Partnership, and Western Native Trout Initiative Funded a project to stabilized 3,050 feet of shoreline on Olpe City Lake, Kansas. Assisted partners in installation of a fish barrier on Lovewell Reservoir, Kansas to prevent fish loss during irrigation releases. Evaluation is ongoing but preliminary results show a large increase in the forage base. Provided funding for 400 plastic fish attractors that were installed in six Texas reservoirs: Sam Rayburn, Toledo Bend,...
Map of the risk of current fish habitat degradation of Northern Gulf of Mexico estuaries.
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Table showing human and natural landscape factors used for the 2015 national assessment of stream fish habitat.
Tags: 2015, Hawaii, Table
The United States is home to more than 3,000 fish species and over 322 million people, and they all depend on the same water. Healthy aquatic resources are vital to the integrity of the United States and essential for sustainable fish populations. Unfortunately, in many places around the United States, fish and the habitats on which they depend are degraded or in decline. Almost 40 percent of the nation’s freshwater fish species are considered at risk or vulnerable to extinction. Habitat loss is the most common cause for extinction of freshwater fish in the United States over the past century, and many saltwater fish are also in decline due to habitat degradation. In 1997, Congress declared that one of the greatest...
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The Crystal Darter (Crystallaria asprella) requires large, clear-water streams with clean sand and gravel bottoms and moderate to swift currents. It is intolerant of siltation and other forms of pollution from various land use practices. Direct habitat degradation from damming, channelization, and dredging has also reduced habitat for this species. Remaining populations have become isolated from one another by dams and impoundments. The Mississippi River most likely no longer serves as a usable corridor for the Crystal Darter because of the silt load. The isolated local populations are then vulnerable to single destructive events such as toxic chemical spills.
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Relative condition of fish habitat in streams of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico States. Histogram shows percentage of total stream length in each condition class.
Identifying disturbances to fish habitat The approach for identifying disturbances to fish habitat was based on the assumption that greater intensities and types of human landscape disturbances would most likely lead to more disturbed stream fish habitat (e.g., Danz et al. 2007, Esselman et al. 2011). Twenty-two human landscape variables were identified for the Alaska assessment, with 21 variables used in the southeast and 19 in greater Alaska. We grouped variables into six sub-indices representing specific types of disturbances including: urban land use, agricultural land use, stream fragmentation, point source pollution, infrastructure, and active mines. Each sub-index of disturbance was represented by 2 to...
Tags: 2015, Alaska, Method


map background search result map search result map Summary of Scientific Findings for Southwestern States Description of dams and other barriers as a human activity affecting fish habitat in Northeastern States Habitat Trouble for Ironcolor Shiner in Upper Midwest States Habitat Trouble for Crystal Darters in Central Midwest States Generalized Methodology for Stream Assessments of Alaska and Hawaii Most Pervasive and Severe Disturbances for the Eastern Gulf of Mexico States Summary of Scientific Findings for Southeast Atlantic States Habitat Trouble for American Eel in Northeastern States Description of Pasture as a Human Activity Affecting Fish Habitat in Northern Plains States Fish Habitat Partnership Activities for the Southeast Atlantic States Habitat Trouble for Waccamaw Silverside in Southeast Atlantic States Eastern Gulf of Mexico States Risk of Current Degradation Chart (Stream Length) Fish Habitat Partnership Activities for the Southern Plains States Summary of Scientific Findings for Southeast Atlantic States Fish Habitat Partnership Activities for the Southeast Atlantic States Habitat Trouble for Waccamaw Silverside in Southeast Atlantic States Description of Pasture as a Human Activity Affecting Fish Habitat in Northern Plains States Description of dams and other barriers as a human activity affecting fish habitat in Northeastern States Habitat Trouble for American Eel in Northeastern States Habitat Trouble for Crystal Darters in Central Midwest States Habitat Trouble for Ironcolor Shiner in Upper Midwest States Most Pervasive and Severe Disturbances for the Eastern Gulf of Mexico States Eastern Gulf of Mexico States Risk of Current Degradation Chart (Stream Length) Summary of Scientific Findings for Southwestern States Fish Habitat Partnership Activities for the Southern Plains States Generalized Methodology for Stream Assessments of Alaska and Hawaii