NC1189: Understanding the Ecological and Social Constraints to Achieving Sustainable Fisheries Resource Policy and Management

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active

NC1189: Understanding the Ecological and Social Constraints to Achieving Sustainable Fisheries Resource Policy and Management

Duration: 10/01/2016 to 09/30/2021

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

Fish have influenced and continue to influence human settlement patterns, drive trade, supply critical food sources, offer recreational opportunities, and provide a source of income for both inland and coastal communities in the United States and abroad. In 2011, recreational fishing was valued at $115 billion dollars in overall economic output and supported over 800,000 jobs in the United States alone (Southwick Associates 2012). Unfortunately, major ecosystem drivers, in particular climate change and invasive species, threaten the diversity and abundance of freshwater fishes through their impacts on freshwater ecosystems. The cost of all invasive species in the United States is estimated at $120 billion per year (Pimentel et al. 2005). Additionally, as sentinels of ecosystem and societal resilience, changes in fish community structure and production dynamics can alert us to unsustainable human activities occurring at multiple spatial and temporal scales, often before it is visible in other parts of the ecosystem. The overarching goal of this regional research project will be to determine the factors that facilitate or hinder fisheries sustainability and food security in the United States. More specifically, we will aim to address how climate change and invasive species affect fish habitat, communities, and production dynamics, in order to conserve and restore sustainable and economically viable inland aquatic ecosystems and fishery resources. Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) scientists are extremely well positioned and technically capable to assist policy makers and managers by providing the scientific basis on which to guide the best management decisions for sustainable fisheries resource systems in the face of these challenges.

The habitats and communities with which fish have co-evolved have always been in flux, with individuals and populations responding to dynamic changes in climate, prey abundance, predation pressure, and habitat availability. However, the rate at which climate change and invasive species are changing these communities due to climate change and invasive species exceeds the rate at which many fish species are able to adapt, leading to significant reductions in fish production and associated benefits. Policy makers have started to take notice as stakeholders across the country have put together coalitions and partnerships, such as the National Fish Habitat Action Plan's (NFHAP), to address the need for protection, restoration, and enhancement of "the nation's fish and aquatic communities through partnerships that foster fish habitat conservation and improve the quality of life for the American people" (NFHAP 2010 Annual Update, Formal legislation has also been introduced, including the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, which is currently supported by numerous members of Congress and non-governmental associations such as the American Sportfishing Association, and has the recognition of 18 different Fish Habitat Partnerships. These projects highlight the importance of, and support for, cooperation across both political and ecological boundaries. Findings from the multistate research program proposed here will meet these needs and will be used by state, federal, tribal, and associated non-governmental associations to mitigate and adapt to climate change and the spread of invasive species.

In an increasingly globalized world, fish are the ultimate integrators of ecosystem changes as their diversity and productivity reflect changes in the structure and function of upland ecosystems, the composition of the airshed, and the nature and dynamics of ground and surface water. With inland fisheries resources and their ecosystems constantly exposed to new threats due to invasive species and climate change, it is critical to collaborate across geo-political jurisdictional boundaries and disciplinary fields to design innovative and encompassing solutions to local and national scale challenges to the multitude of diverse waterscapes within the United States. We must protect the integrity of our freshwater ecosystems to achieve healthy and productive inland fisheries in the face of human activities and impacts in their watersheds and airsheds. This important link between the quantity and quality of freshwater and sustainable fisheries makes it imperative for our researchers and managers to compare stressors on these resources among diverse landscapes to better devise plans that adaptively manage our fisheries for the benefit of both the ecosystem and society.

To be successful in addressing the challenges faced by fisheries professionals and related policy makers, we need better understanding of aquatic ecosystems and how they provide essential goods and services that generate significant social and economic benefits. Strengthened understanding of the effects of climate change and invasive species on fish and associated biota, coupled with the assessment of the worth of these fisheries ecosystems, should motivate society to ensure benefits from sustainable fisheries and associated aquatic ecosystem services. Enhanced communication among stakeholders throughout the fisheries supply chain is an essential component to achieving the desired stewardship and fisheries valuation at the local and global level. Furthermore, the dimensions of the fisheries supply chain, its governance, and its resilience need to be incorporated into adaptive decision-making processes to mitigate impacts related to environmental change on fisheries ecosystems. Ignoring any of the above factors will lead us down an irreversible path of destruction and collapse for many fisheries and fish populations. Only through understanding the requirements and benefits of healthy fish, healthy habitats and healthy people will sustainability of fisheries and aquatic ecosystems be ensured and our economic and social prosperity be enhanced.

See the "Attachments" section for a CRIS Literature Search for research related to the goals and objectives of NC-1189.  Studies selected in the CRIS search are also attached.

Related, Current and Previous Work

Previous research conducted by this multistate team has built the foundation for this proposal. We have begun compiling a variety of datasets from throughout the United States. We are linking these data to a standardized spatial framework to map and conduct spatial analyses that may be broadly used to understand production potential and resilience of stream fisheries currently and into the future. Data sets include distributions and abundances of stream fish assemblages, stocking locations for stream fishes, and creel survey data. We are also incorporating current stream habitat factors as well as projected changes in stream flow and thermal characteristics anticipated to occur under multiple future climate scenarios. A third type of data include natural and anthropogenic landscape factors known to influence distributions of fishes throughout the region (and influencing fisheries potential of waterbodies). These include factors such as geology, natural landscape covers like forest and wetlands, and human land uses such as urbanization, agriculture, and mines. By integrating these datasets into a common spatial framework, we have the potential for conducting analyses that 1) identify current limits to stream fish and fisheries and 2) identify changes in habitats to occur with climate that may influence the potential and/or resilience of waterbodies to support fisheries into the future. A next step that will build on this work is to link additional large-scale, socioeconomic datasets to the spatial framework that may yield new insights into other ecosystem services provided by waterbodies and/or that may characterize angler preferences related to fishing. Integration of such datasets into a common spatial framework will aid in decision making on where and how to prioritize management of stream fishes into the future, can be used to better understand angler preferences, and may be useful in garnering future public support to ensure sustainable fisheries into the future.

Our multistate team is ideal for this research, as members have contacts across the nation in state, tribal, and federal fisheries management agencies as well as with academic and government researchers. This team was built through directed recruitment of researchers based upon skill sets and research themes. In addition, we hosted fishery managers and interdisciplinary researchers to discuss new approaches to fisheries challenges at the “Ecosystem services: Bridging natural and social sciences toward sustainable polices” symposium held August 20, 2014 during the American Fisheries Society Annual Conference in Quebec City. The session focused on communicating the value of inland fisheries, the ecosystem services framework, using interdisciplinary approaches to balance stakeholder demands, integrating new knowledge and technology, and more effective fisheries regulations enforcement. The symposium provided a showcase to recruit participants in addition to those that discovered our project through other means. The team will leverage this unique network to accomplish the research goals in multiple states and regions. These results will provide for better fisheries management as the ecosystems in which fish live are affected by anglers, land use, and climate change.

In addition to building a team and developing a synthetic proposal, our research team has also produced new research which informs our future direction. Investigations of how climate and land use affect aquatic ecosystems and fisheries resources in the Ohio River basin gathered information related to fish community structure and function in Ohio River drainages, land-use and land-cover, and climate. This project developed predictive population and habitat models that allow for managers to quantify threshold levels of environmental change that will trigger drastic losses in the quality and productivity of fisheries and aquatic resources.

We’ve conducted further research on climate change quantifying the relationship between Lake Whitefish recruitment and climate variables such as temperature, wind, and ice cover in the 1836 Treaty Waters of the Great Lakes. Projecting the relationship between these climate variables and recruitment into the future with climate change will help the fishery and fishery managers anticipate changes in recruitment and prepare adaptive management strategies to maintain sustainable harvest of the fishery into the future. Our proposed research builds upon these climate change variables by considering invasive species interactions in concert with climate change impacts.

The foundations of our research are not limited to ecological impacts; our social science research on the barriers to Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management (EBFM) provides insight into improved governance in the face of climate change and invasive species impacts. This research highlights challenges to EBFM including the large number of variables, economic impacts of greater precaution, lack of science to support prescriptive management, absence of a definitive action plan, and the constraints of relevant laws. Steps identified that could facilitate implementation of EBFM by Fisheries Management Councils include: creation of a clear action plan, council decision maker and stakeholder buy-in, legislation that requires and prioritizes EBFM, increased certainty in EBFM science, and additional information about the social impacts of transitioning to EBFM.


  1. Foster a collaborative, coupled human and natural systems research framework to assess the ecological and socioeconomic effects of climate change and invasive species on inland fisheries and aquatic resources.
  2. Analyze the ecological, environmental and socioeconomic factors which mitigate or exacerbate the introduction, establishment, or effects of invasive species and climate change effects at multiple spatial and ecological scales.
  3. Determine the socioeconomic and environmental factors that influence the ways in which individuals and organizations respond to invasive species and climate change and the likely consequences of those responses for effective inland fisheries and aquatic resource management.


This multistate project will address the ecological and socioeconomic effects and feedbacks of climate change and invasive species on inland fisheries resources in a coupled human and natural system. In order to achieve this goal, the project will host two symposia at national conferences, produce one review paper, and conduct new research in fulfillment of the objectives described below. In the first year of this multistate project, we will hold a symposium at a national or international environmental conference such as the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting to improve understanding of the interactions between climate change, invasive species, and the human dimensions of these environmental issues as they relate to inland fisheries. The symposium will stimulate conversation and provide insights into research objectives for this project. A panel of high-level experts in climate change, invasive species, and natural resource governance and management will conclude the session with a discussion of major threats to inland fish and fisheries resulting from these issues and the science, management, and governance required to address these concerns. In the final year of the project, we will hold a second symposium at a national or international environmental conference. The purpose of this symposium will be to offer a venue for participants and partners to present the results produced by this multistate project, discuss the implications of those results for management of fisheries and aquatic resources, and identify additional information needs that should be addressed. In addition, we will invite other speakers to contribute to the themes of invasive species, climate change, fisheries management, and human dimensions. The multistate team will also conduct and publish a literature review focused on the interacting factors of climate change, invasive species, fisheries management, and the human dimensions of these environmental changes. Peer-reviewed research from each of these disciplines will be analyzed to generate new information, raise new questions, and improve understanding of the interaction between these disciplines. The review paper will be submitted to an appropriate peer-reviewed journal in order to disseminate our findings. Objective 1 Mitigating the effects of invasive species and climate change in a decentralized human system requires interdisciplinary thinking. Coupled human and natural systems interact through repeated feedbacks, and the failure of conservation organizations to account for such feedbacks can lead to policies that are ineffective or even counterproductive. This is especially true when policies rely on modifying human behavior, as is often the case with fisheries management. Protecting aquatic resources in the face of invasive species and climate change requires not only anticipating direct biological impacts, but also the human behavioral responses to changes in aquatic systems and the effectiveness of fisheries management tools. This project moves beyond simply acknowledging the importance of the interplay between aquatic, human systems and modern institutions, and actively advances interdisciplinary research on the effects of invasive species and climate change on inland fisheries. There are a variety of ways in which this integrative approach could be used to study the effects of climate change and invasive species on inland fisheries and aquatic resources. One example is a within-system combination of 1) a creel survey to quantify fisher behaviors and preferences within a system; 2) an economic evaluation of a fishery within that same system to the extent that regional economic impacts would be quantified; and 3) prediction of the influence of climate change on fisheries. This approach would combine the predicted ecological outcomes with the potential implications for altered angler behavior and regional economic impact(s). This would be a large and complex undertaking, but this is what is required for such a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to be possible. On an even broader scale, this type of integrated approach could then be replicated across a latitudinal gradient, further broadening our ability to predict the effects of both climate change and invasive species across the United States. With such research, we could improve the joint understanding of the human interactions and ecological functioning of our freshwater aquatic systems. Consider another example of applying this coupled human and natural systems approach to freshwater ecosystems affected by involving invasive species. Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus (VHSv) is an infectious disease brought over in the ballast tanks of freighters that has recently been devastating fish populations in the Great Lakes region. Some state natural resource agencies are responding by placing restrictions on bait and boat use to alter the rate of VHSv spread in the areas most closely associated with the disease. However, the effectiveness of these regulations in terms of protecting fish population health, recreational angler values, and commercial harvester profits is not well known. Applying a coupled human and natural systems approach to this disease management problem could yield crucial insights into slowing the rate of VHSv spread. This would require 1) data on fishery characteristics pre- and post-disease introduction in currently infected areas, as well data for areas not currently infected; 2) an understanding of disease spread dynamics in aquatic systems; 3) data on the impacts of angler behavior on disease spread; 4) data on angler responses to regulations; and possibly 5) estimates of the monetary costs and benefits of VHSv control to determine the most cost-effective control strategies. We recognize that interdisciplinary research can be challenging. Because scientists working with different aspects of aquatic systems often go to different meetings, publish in different journals, and use different jargon, it is important that a strategy be developed to bridge these divides. Toward this end, we propose to: 1. Conduct interdisciplinary team meetings on a regular basis 2. Establish working groups within the team with focused research topics 3. Develop a descriptive list of available biological and human dimensions data related to fisheries Objective 2 The interactive effects of climate change, invasive species, and socioeconomic factors represent a challenge to the effective management of fisheries in North America (Rahel et al. 2008). The purpose of Objective 2 is to identify and improve understanding of these interactions. The methods for Objective 2 describe an analysis of climate change, invasive species, and socioeconomic factors through several sub-objectives. These sub-objectives are necessary to address the distinct needs of identifying relevant factors, building the data resources and tools to quantify those factors, and ultimately analyzing those datasets in an informative framework. Our sub-objectives are to: 1. Identify the ecological, environmental, and socioeconomic factors that mitigate or exacerbate the introduction, establishment, or effects of invasive species and climate change on fisheries and aquatic resources. 2. Identify and develop datasets and tools to quantify these factors, as well as the associated effects of invasive species and climate change at multiple (biological, physiological, local, regional, and national) levels. 3. Analyze the ecological, environmental and socioeconomic factors which mitigate or exacerbate the introduction, establishment, or effects of invasive species and climate change effects at multiple spatial and ecological scales. The strength of this multistate research team relies on the integration of the diverse skill sets and capacities of participating institutions. We recognize that a broad-scale approach must be balanced with regional factors, datasets, tools and analyses. The ecological, environmental, and socioeconomic factors which we will identify, collect data for, and analyze are as follows: Ecological factors 1. The demographic, evolutionary, and physiological features of invasive and native species and populations that determine their likelihood of introduction to new habitats, establishment in those habitats, and capacity to influence community or ecosystem processes 2. The role of ecological community structure and ecosystem conditions in interactions with climate change or invasive species Environmental factors 1. The physical features of aquatic systems, including landscape position, size and depth, modification for human uses, and patterns of recent natural disturbances 2. The changes in habitat and capacity to support healthy fisheries tied to temperature, precipitation, and disturbance regimes due to climate change, invasive species, and their interactions Socioeconomic factors 1. Urbanization and rural land use patterns in and around aquatic ecosystems 2. Recreational, commercial, and aesthetic value of native versus non-native species or natural versus disturbed communities and ecosystems 3. The role of economic and social characteristics of the public and institutions in mitigating or exacerbating the effects of invasive species or climate change on inland fisheries and aquatic communities 4. The role of competing resource use patterns (recreational harvest, commercial harvest, shoreline development, energy production) in facilitating or impeding the effects of invasive species and climate change In assembling information on these factors, we will attribute data to a common spatial framework to facilitate data sharing and analyses and to ensure integration of findings across spatial scales. This will allow for synthesis of individual analytical results conducted by our multistate research team into map-based outputs and will support comparison of our findings with results from other initiatives (e.g., a national assessment of fish habitats conducted in support of the National Fish Habitat Partnership). We will identify factors that most strongly influence distributions of species important to inland fisheries and the condition of their habitats over large regions of the conterminous United States. We will also determine factors that may make fisheries vulnerable to changes in climate or to invasions by aquatic species. National datasets on distributions of fish species and ecological factors are currently available through the National Fish Habitat Partnership, as are data indicating projected changes in climate (from the U. S. Geological Survey’s National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and regional Climate Science Centers) and distributions of aquatic invasive species (from the U. S. Geological Survey Invasive Species Program). Assembling data on socioeconomic factors will be a focus of this objective, development of spatially-explicit information characterizing locations of important fisheries, recreational and commercial uses of waterbodies, and aesthetic characteristics of waterbodies. Outcomes of this step include 1) identification of regional differences in landscape-scale influences on inland fisheries; 2) identification of habitats that may be most vulnerable to projected changes in climate; and 3) identification of habitats that may be susceptible to invasions by aquatic species. In addition to the analysis above, fish bioenergetics provides a powerful tool for assessing and predicting potential interactions between climate change and invasive species that impact inland fisheries. By coupling fish bioenergetics models with spatial air temperature data we can provide a projection of fish distributions under climate change. Bioenergetics models are widely used to predict fish growth or consumption given environmental constraints such as water temperature and food availability (Hanson et al. 1997; Hartman and Kitchell 2008). Using air temperature data under climate change from across a species range we can project water temperatures based on studies by McCombie (1959) and Livingstone and Lotter (1998). These predicted climate change water temperatures can be interpolated across the species range and new range maps can be generated to project the range of a species under climate change. In a subsequent analysis, information obtained from experiments on genetic variation in bioenergetic or other ecological attributes can be added to these simulations to determine the scope for adaptive variation that might be used in genetic or evolutionary rescue programs to mitigate regional species declines and losses. Environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches that detect species presence based on samples from water or sediments have begun to emerge as powerful tools for detection of invasive aquatic species (Thomsen and Willerslev 2015). Recent work further suggests that some of these approaches can provide indicators of local fish assemblages and/or species abundance in aquatic systems (Thomsen et al. 2012; Pilliod et al. 2013). These tools thus offer significant promise to not only afford early detection of invasive species, but to potentially track qualitative and quantitative changes in local and regional fish communities facing species invasions and climate change. However, eDNA detection tools have only been developed for a limited subset of targeted species and are lacking for many regionally and nationally important species. Moreover, new technologies (NextGen Sequencing) make it feasible to simultaneously survey diverse fish assemblages, but they have not been developed and validated on scales that might make them applicable for use in regional and national monitoring programs. Finally, technological developments have largely surpassed sampling design and statistical considerations that apply to eDNA approaches (e.g., Hunter et al. 2015). Hence, as part of this project, we may develop new eDNA assays to identify invasive species and characterize broader fish community changes over time. Through multistate collaborations those tools could be tested for the first time across diverse regions. Those technological tools would be accompanied by development of quantitatively rigorous guidelines for field sampling designs and analysis of such data with the intent of facilitating broader regional and national monitoring programs. A potential experimental approach that utilizes the geographic diversity of this multistate research team would be a series of large common-garden experiments assessing the influence of community diversity on invasion potential and impacts across the range of important indigenous species (e.g., Brook Trout, Largemouth Bass) or important invasive species (e.g. Mosquitofish). The interaction between community and ecosystem effects of invasive species may differ based upon uniquely adapted populations of invasive or local fishes (e.g., Palkovacs and Post 2009; Palkovacs et al. 2009; Harmon et al. 2009). Studies of the impacts of differentially evolved invasive species and invaded communities may provide insight for predicting the impacts of new invasions on freshwater fisheries. Objective 3 We will use data collected through a variety of research methods to characterize the responses of individuals and organizations to invasive species and climate change, identify the factors that contribute to those responses, and determine how those responses affect fisheries and aquatic resources and their management. These methods may include standardized surveys, focus groups, semi-structured interviews, observation, and others. The development and application of economic, ethical, and ecological models may also be used to identify key factors influencing responses to invasive species and climate change and the possible consequences of those responses. Work under Objective 3 will take advantage of existing data sets and models from ongoing and past studies. In addition, we will collect pilot data to fill information gaps and serve as catalysts for more expanded studies. The pilot work will provide data about key stakeholder groups for which relevant information is currently missing. Interviews, focus groups, document analysis, and/or surveys may be used in this phase of the work. Examples of existing data sets include those coming from: • A series of web and mail surveys of licensed anglers from 12 states in the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River region. These surveys were designed to collect detailed information on season-long fishing patterns and included questions to assess how these fishing patterns were likely to change if invasive species led to a decrease in fish stocks. • A series of mail surveys of licensed anglers in six states in the Great Lakes region. These surveys collected information about behaviors that could contribute to or prevent the spread of invasive species as well as factors that might affect those behaviors. • A series of mail surveys of bait dealers in 6 states and provinces of the Great lakes region. These surveys collected information about behaviors that could contribute to or prevent the spread of invasive species as well as factors that might affect those behaviors. • A web-based survey and series of in-depth interviews of New York State residents. These methods were used to determine how many people belonged to certain key stakeholder groups that could contribute to or prevent the spread of invasive species (anglers, boaters, aquarium owners, water gardeners, etc.), assess whether they were engaging in behaviors that could spread invasive species (or prevent that spread), and explore some of the factors that could affect those behaviors. • A web-based survey of fisheries managers and extension educators throughout the Great Lakes region. This survey assessed the regulatory actions and education efforts that were being used to try to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by anglers and bait dealers. It also assessed the degree to which fisheries managers and extension educators communicated about their management efforts with each other. • A web-based survey of aquatic invasive species outreach program leaders in the Lake Ontario basin. This survey characterized the messages being communicated by outreach programs and the methods used to communicate those messages. It also assessed the capacity of the organizations to engage in outreach and the degree to which outreach programs communicated about their efforts with each other. • A series of telephone and in-person surveys of organizations that had the potential to affect the success of aquatic invasive species outreach programs in the Lake Ontario basin. These organizations included marinas, state parks, and other boating access sites, bait dealers, local government, and environmental nongovernmental organizations. The surveys collected information on the willingness of the organizations to contribute to outreach efforts and the ways in which they were willing to contribute. Data analysis and application of models will address specific research questions that will be informed by discussion and dialogue among participants. The social scientists and ecologists engaged in this project are well-suited to provide insights that will shape the direction of the work under this project, including: (a) what stakeholder groups are most likely to respond to and be affected by invasive species and climate change; (b) what factors could be influencing the behavior of these stakeholder groups; and (c) what characteristics of fisheries and aquatic resources are most likely to influence and be influenced by the responses of these stakeholder groups. In addition, we will engage researchers and practitioners not involved in this project to inform our research questions and disseminate the results. Examples of research questions that could be explored include: • How do different stakeholder groups differ in terms of their willingness to take action on climate change and their willingness to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species? Do the differences in stakeholder’s incentives and consequences of environmental changes relate to differences in their concerns about invasive species, their attitudes toward invasive species prevention, their knowledge of invasive species and climate change, the actions they take, and the factors influencing those actions? • How would anglers respond to the arrival of new aquatic invasive species and/or climate change? Anglers’ choices about how often and where to go fishing are influenced by a variety of factors. One of these factors is the amount and type of fish that they can catch. What would happen if invasive species or climate change affect fish stocks or catch rates? How would it affect how frequently anglers went fishing and where they traveled to do so? How would these behavior changes affect the economic value of recreational fishing? • How does communication and collaboration contribute to invasive species prevention? Fisheries managers and outreach programs use a variety of approaches to influence the behavior of boaters, anglers, and other aquatic recreationists to try to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The success of these efforts in a region such as the Great Lakes may be influenced by the consistency of these efforts in terms of the behaviors they target and the means they use to do so. Communication and collaboration between programs has the potential to influence the consistency of invasive species prevention efforts. To what degree does it do so? • What factors are contributing to and constraining the capacity of outreach programs working to prevent the spread of invasive species or to mitigate and adapt to climate change? Organizational capacity is influenced by a variety of factors including funding, staffing, information, authority, and collaboration. Which of these factors are currently contributing to and detracting from the ability of organizations to engage in aquatic invasive species and climate change outreach? In what ways could that capacity be extended by collaboration with other types of organizations that have frequent contact with recreational users?

Measurement of Progress and Results


  • The generation of a collaborative, coupled human and natural systems research framework for investigating interactions between invasive species, climate change, and inland fisheries and aquatic resources.
  • To facilitate integrated model building and data analysis, we will identify the dimensions along which available biological and human dimensions databases can be linked/merged.
  • A prioritized list of data requirements for interdisciplinary questions that cannot be answered yet due to a lack of data.
  • An assessment of the ecological and socioeconomic effects of climate change and invasive species on inland fisheries and aquatic resources. This assessment will integrate data across disciplines to gain robust insights into climate change and invasive species problems, in order to make specific interdisciplinary management recommendations for mitigating detrimental effects on fisheries.
  • An assessment of data sets and syntheses of existing work that identify factors influencing individual and organizational responses to invasive species and climate change.
  • An assessment of data sets and syntheses of existing work that reveal how individual and organizational responses to invasive species and climate change affect inland fisheries and aquatic resources.
  • Results of analysis of data sets and syntheses of existing work that reveal how individual and organizational responses to invasive species and climate change affect the management of inland fisheries and aquatic resources.
  • Meetings and workshops that convey information on how to influence individual behavior and organizational responses to invasive species and climate change in ways that benefit the management of inland fisheries and aquatic resources.
  • Peer-reviewed publications, research reports, and professional presentations communicating the results of this project.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • Forecasting the interacting effects of climate change and invasive species on inland fisheries and aquatic resources will provide policymakers with improved understanding needed to make informed decisions about linked human and ecological systems, allowing us to anticipate and minimize ecological and socioeconomic losses, as well as to potentially mitigate for any losses.
  • Improved tools, datasets, and guidelines for use by federal, state, NGO and stakeholders to detect, predict, and mitigate the individual and interactive ecological effects of climate change and invasive species on fish communities and aquatic ecosystems at local, regional, and national scales.
  • Sustainable recreational and commercial fisheries in light of the individual and interactive effects of climate change, invasive species, and socioeconomic factors that influence aquatic communities.
  • Better protection of inland fisheries and aquatic resources from the effects of invasive species and climate change.
  • More effective interventions to influence individual responses to invasive species and climate change.
  • Increased capacity for management of inland fisheries and aquatic resources when those resources are affected by invasive species and climate change.


(2016): Convene a meeting of the research team at the Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society to plan for collaborative proposals linking ecological and human dimensions aspects of aquatic systems.

(2016): Hold a special symposium highlighting this research project at the Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society.

(2017): Identification of data sets, models, and existing studies relevant to this objective.

(2017): Refinement of research questions to be addressed.

(2019): Results of data analysis.

(2020): Workshop for researchers and practitioners highlighting the results of the project at the Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society.

(0):1): Submission to a peer-reviewed journal of a review paper and meta-analysis of the ecological, environmental and socioeconomic factors which mitigate or exacerbate the introduction, establishment, or effects of invasive species and climate change effects at multiple spatial and ecological scales.

(0):): Reports, presentations, and peer-reviewed publications of research generated by this research project.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

Results from this project will be integrated into a review paper that identifies ecological and social constraints to sustainable fisheries policy and management. The paper will be made available to end users (e.g., fisheries researchers, managers, policy makers) through a referred publication in a high-visibility journal (e.g., Global Change Biology). In addition, two symposia will be organized to disseminate results from this project to fisheries professionals. One symposium will occur at the beginning of the project at an American Fisheries Society conference to recruit potential participants. The other symposium will take place at the end of the project (again at an American Fisheries Society conference) to summarize results and chart a course for future research.

Results from each component of this project will be disseminated fisheries scientists and managers via book publications and refereed, peer-reviewed articles in a suite of scientific journals (e.g., Freshwater Biology, Ecological Applications, Diversity and Distributions, and Ecography). Results will also be communicated through oral presentations at regional, national, and international meetings of professional organizations such as the American Fisheries Society, Ecological Society of America, and the North American Benthological Society. The project is also anticipated to stimulate interaction among NC1189 participants, multistate fisheries organizations (e.g., Great Lakes Fisheries Commission, USDA Regional Aquaculture centers), management agency professionals, and allied non-governmental organizations. Results will be communicated to lay audiences via oral presentations to local watershed and lake associations and fisheries education and outreach programs.

Moreover, project databases will be integrated into web interfaces that allow managers access to data on species distributions and related environmental parameters. Databases will also be made available via ftp sites that are easily accessed by all interested parties. We will use project deliverables to aid in the development and delivery of credit and non-credit courses, including study abroad programs, seminars, workshops related to fisheries ecology and management, and a fisheries fellows program in concert with partners at local and global levels related to the fisheries supply chain. These will provide a unique learning experience, advance the knowledge and leadership of students and professionals, and enhance community-based conservation programs. Finally, the project will engage agency staff and public stakeholders in the selection of case study communities, and where appropriate, in reviewing draft conclusions and recommendations arising from the project. Community members in our case study sites, among governance institutions and civic society, will help inform the study design, provide data, and be invited, where appropriate, to help develop or review project conclusions and recommendations.


This multistate research project team is currently composed of a Steering Committee and participating research members.

Membership is open to AES-affiliated scientists, scientists from other academic institutions across the United States, and those deemed to be able to provide a useful contribution to the proposed research of the committee. For institutions with an AES affiliation, it is preferred that at least one participant from that state’s AES be involved. Members are expected to attend the annual planning meetings, contribute to group proposals for high quality extramural funding that is relevant and responsive to society’s needs, conduct agreed upon research, share their findings with team members, satisfy all reporting requirements, and maintain communication related to project progress with home institutions and other committee members.

A Steering Committee that fosters collaboration and maintains the integrity of this multistate project will be composed of one chair, a secretary, and additional members from lead institutions contributing significantly to project development. Members of the Steering Committee are representative of the three major project Objectives outlined in this proposal. They also represent the broad range of geographic distributions, species/habitats encountered, and disciplinary backgrounds engaged in this program. The chair will communicate with the lead administrative advisor regarding meeting times, places, and agenda. The chair will preside over the meetings and is responsible for ensuring that all reporting requirements are satisfied. The secretary will record minutes, perform other duties as needed and as determined by the chair, and maintain communication will all committee members and the administrative advisor.

Literature Cited

American Sportfishing Association (ASA). 2012. Sportfishing in America: An Economic Force for Conservation. Accessed 9/8/2015 at:

Cooke, Steven J., S. G. Hinch, A. P. Farrell, D. A. Patterson, K. Miller-Saunders, D. W. Welch, M. R. Donaldson et al. 2008. Developing a mechanistic understanding of fish migrations by linking telemetry with physiology, behavior, genomics and experimental biology: an interdisciplinary case study on adult Fraser River sockeye salmon. Fisheries 33: 321-339.

Hanson, P. C., T. B. Johnson, D. E. Schindler, and J. F. Kitchell. 1997. Fish bioenergetics 3.0. University of Wisconsin, Sea Grant Institute. Sea Grant Technical Report, WISCUT-97–001, Madison.

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