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Factors Influencing Riverine Fish Assemblages in Massachusetts. New England Association of Environmental Biologists March 21-23, 2012. A recent USGS MA-RI Water Science Center report:.

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slide1

Factors Influencing Riverine Fish Assemblages in Massachusetts

New England Association of Environmental Biologists

March 21-23, 2012

A recent USGS MA-RI Water Science Center report:

Armstrong, D.S., Richards, T.A., and Levin, S.B., 2011, Factors influencing riverine fish assemblages in Massachusetts: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5193, 59 p.

  • The report is available on-line: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2011/5193/
slide2

REPORT UPDATE

This report is one of a number of USGS reports that have helped inform the state on environmental flow issues in Massachusetts

slide3

INTRODUCTION – DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

Objective: To better understand the influence of flow alteration on fish communities in Massachusetts, relative to the effects of natural basin characteristics and other human stressors such as land-use and dams.

Scope: a statewide effort

Impervious cover

Water withdrawals

Drainage area

Impoundments

Channel slope

Water returns

slide4

INTRODUCTION – DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

  • MDFW Fish data
  • Habitat-Use Metrics
  • New GIS coverages
  • New ArcHydro Tools
  • Indicators of flow alteration

Opportunity: new data and new tools made this project possible

  • SYE simulated flows for ungaged sites
  • MDEP water-use data
slide5

INTRODUCTION – DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

  • Opportunity: Additional statewide GIS coverages

Sand and gravel

Topography

Land use

Dams

slide6

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

  • Fish data were obtained from MDFW Fish Database (1998-2008)

669 Fish sampling sites

slide7

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

KEY

Contributing area

Undammed reach

Fish sampling site

  • Variables were determined for the contributing area to fish-sampling sites
  • and also for a 120-meter buffer adjacent to the stream.

contributing area

120-meter buffer adjacent to the stream.

slide8

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

  • The fish sampling sites were predominantly in small, wadeable streams
  • and represented a range of basin characteristics in Massachusetts

%Forest %Wetland DA Slope %Sand/gravel Elevation

slide9

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

Flow data

  • Unaltered daily flows were simulated using the Sustainable-Yield Estimator (SYE)
  • Flows simulated for the 1960-2004 period for each fish sampling site
  • Water-use data were summed for the contributing areas to each fish sampling site and used to calculate altered daily flows and indicators of percent flow alteration:
  • - for individual components of flow alteration, i.e.
  • percent alteration of August median flow from groundwater withdrawals
  • percent alteration of August median flow from surface-water (NPDES) returns
  • percent alteration of August median flow from septic returns
  • - and for net flow alteration variables
  • Net percent alteration August median flows, depleted sites
  • Percent alteration August median flows, surcharged sites
slide10

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

  • The fish sampling sites represented a range offlow alteration conditions
slide11

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

  • The fish sampling sites represented a range ofimpervious cover conditions
slide12

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

  • Fish-sampling sites were representative of conditions in Massachusetts.

Comparisons to conditions in 1400+ sub-basins in the MA Water Indicators study

slide13

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

  • Variable Reduction of Environmental Variables
  • Principal components analysis (PCA) and Spearman rank correlation were used to reduce the number of explanatory variables - To identify variables that contributed the most to the variability of the dataset, variables with the highest loadings in the PCA analysis were retained.
  • Example: Variables representing individual components of flow alteration had higher loadings than variables representing net flow alteration.
  • Highly correlated variables cannot be used together in the same regression equation.
  • To reduced multicollinearity and minimize redundancy in the dataset, variables that were highly correlated (rho > 0.70) with the highly loaded variables were removed.
  • Example: percent impervious cover was highly correlated with percent alteration of August median flow from septic returns.
slide14

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

15 Variables (of 150 potential variables) were retained to use as candidate variables for regression models

  • Natural basin characteristics
  • Drainage area
  • Channel slope
  • Percent sand and gravel
  • Land-cover/Land-use variables
  • Percent forest
  • Percent wetland in buffer
  • Percent impervious cover
  • Percent agriculture in buffer
  • Flow alteration metrics
  • 1. Percent alteration of August median flow from groundwater withdrawals
  • 2. Percent alteration of August median flow from surface-water returns
  • Percent alteration of mean annual flow from surface-water withdrawals
  • Percent alteration of mean annual flow for net depleted sites
  • Dam/impoundment metrics
  • Dam density
  • 2. Percent open water in the contributing area.
  • 3. Length of undammed stream reach in network
  • 4. Length of undammed stream reach upstream of the sample site along centerline,

Brook trout

White sucker

Fallfish

Largemouth bass

White sucker

slide15

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

Fish metrics

  • Multivariate analyses of the fish data, using cluster analysis and ordination,
  • indicated that fish species could be naturally-grouped into habitat-use classes

Hierarchical cluster analysis

Non-metric-multidimensional scaling

Redbreast sunfish

American eel

Redfin pickerel

Golden shiner

Brown bullhead

Yellow perch

Chain pickerel

BluegillPumpkinseed Largemouth bass

Yellow bullhead

Brown trout

Brook trout

Slimy sculpin Creek chub

Tesselated darter

Fallfish

Common shiner

White SuckerBlacknose daceLongnose dace

EXPLANATION

Macrohabitat generalistfish

Fluvial fish

Indicates a prominent break at two clusters

slide16

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

  • FISH HABITAT- USE CLASSIFICATION – indicates species sensitive to flow alteration

Fluvial Specialists (FS)

Require flowing water for all portions of their life cycle

Fluvialspecies

Common shinerTessellated darterSlimy sculpinBrown troutCreek chub

White SuckerBlacknose daceBrook troutLongnose daceFallfish

Blacknose dace brook trout

Fluvial Dependents (FD)

Need flowing water for some portion of their life cycle

white sucker common shiner

Macrohabitat Generalists (MG)

Can live in flowing or ponded water conditions

Generalistspecies

PumpkinseedBluegillLargemouth bassAmerican eelRedfin pickerelChain pickerel

Yellow bullhead

Brown bullhead

Golden shiner

Yellow perch

Redbreast sunfish

largemouth bass pumpkinseed

slide17

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

  • Two analysis methods were used to associate
  • fish assemblages and environmental factors
  • Quantile regression
  • Generalized linear models (GLMs)

Quantile

Regression

GLM

Quantile regression is univariate

GLMs are multivariate

slide18

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

Quantile Regression

  • Ecologic data is highly variable.
  • Scatterplots of fish assemblage data and stressors are often wedge-shaped plots.
  • Quantile regressionis used to define the upper limit of a wedge-shaped relation.

Variability occurs because factors other than the factor of interest limit the response variable. Example: a site may have no flow alterations, but could have poor water quality or altered habitat conditions.

The declining upper bound indicates that the explanatory variable can act as a constraint on the response variable, and illustrates the maximum abundance of a species given ideal environmental conditions.

Fish metric

Explanatory variable

slide19

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

Flow alteration

  • Quantile regression shows that relative abundance of individual fish species decreases with increasing flow alteration from groundwater withdrawals
slide20

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

Flow alteration

  • Quantile regression shows that fluvial fish relative abundance and species richnessdecrease with increasing flow alteration from groundwater withdrawals
slide21

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

Impervious cover

  • Quantile regression shows that relative abundance of individual fish species decreases with increasingpercent impervious cover
slide22

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

Impervious cover

  • Quantile regression shows that fluvial fish relative abundance and species richness decrease with increasingpercent impervious cover
slide23

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

Dams

  • Quantile regression also indicates fluvial fish relative abundance and species richness decrease with increases in indicators of dams/impoundments
slide24

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

Generalized linear models

  • Generalized Linear Models (GLMs) were used to relate a suite of multiple explanatory variables to fish-response variables.
  • GLMs are the appropriate analytical tool for non-normally distributed data, count data, and data sets with large numbers of zero values.
  • A GLM equation predicts the mean response for the fish metric
  • GLM equations were developed for
    • Fluvial-fish species richness
    • Fluvial-fish relative abundance
    • Brook trout relative abundance
slide25

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

GLM Results

The GLM equations included significant variables for natural environmental variables, and variables representing flow alteration, impervious cover, and dams

Fluvial-fish relative-abundance model

Fluvial-fish species richness model

Brook trout relative abundance model

slide26

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

  • All 3 models were significant at the 95-percent confidence level or greater (p < 0.05)
  • Measures of goodness-of-fit for the GLM models (Pearson’s r and Pseudo R2) are within a typical range for ecologic models
  • All variables in the equations are significant, but the R2 indicate that there are other variables that have an effect on fish populations that are not accounted for by the equation
  • Unexplained variability could be explained by many causes, including water quality, temperature, local habitat conditions, location of sample sites relative to alterations, use of modeled flow data, and other factors
  • Ecological systems are complicated and it is difficult to account for all the variability.
slide27

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

A.

B.

Fluvial-fish relative-abundance model

Plots, (developed using median values for environmental factors), illustrate that

fluvial fish decrease with increases in percent alteration of August median flow,

And with increases in impervious cover

slide28

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

Fluvial-fish relative-abundance model

  • Results of the fluvial-fish relative-abundance equation indicate that, keeping all other variables the same, …
  • a unit increase in the percent alteration of August median streamflow from groundwater withdrawals indicator is associated with a 0.9-percent decrease in relative abundance of fluvial fish
  • a unit increase in impervious cover is associated with a 3.7-percent decrease in fluvial-fish relative abundance
slide29

INTRODUCTION – DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

SUMMARY: The report demonstrates that fish metrics decrease with increases in anthropogenic factors such as flow alteration from groundwater withdrawals, impervious cover, and dams.

FISH METRICS

ANTHROPOGENIC GRADIENT

slide30

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

SUMMARY

  • The quantile regressions and GLM equations developed during this study
  • illustrate statewide relations between fish-assemblage metrics and
  • environmental and anthropogenic factors.
  • Results of this study provide information on fish assemblages that can be used by MA state agencies to make more-informed decisions about managing factors that affect aquatic habitat in Massachusetts.
  • For more information on how Mass is using the report in the Sustainable Water Management Initiative (SWMI), see:
  • http://www.mass.gov/eea/air-water-climate-change/preserving-water-resources/sustainable-water-management/

SWMI draft biological categories

SWMI draft Flow levels

slide31

INTRODUCTION– DATA – METHODS – ANALYSIS – SUMMARY

  • Acknowledgements
  • Thank you to the report co-authors
  • Sara Levin, USGS
  • Todd Richards, MDFW
  • This work was a cooperative effort between:
  • USGS MA-RI Water Science Center
  • MA Department of Conservation and Recreation
  • MA Department of Environmental Protection
  • MA Department of Fish and Game
  • The report is posted on-line: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2011/5193/
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