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Projected impacts of climate change on salmon habitat restoration

TitleProjected impacts of climate change on salmon habitat restoration
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsBattin J, Wiley MW, Ruckelshaus MH, Palmer RN, Korb E, Bartz KK, Imaki H
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Start Page6720
Date Published02/2007
KeywordsChinook salmon, hydrologic model, population model, Snohomish River, stream flow

Throughout the world, efforts are under way to restore watersheds, but restoration planning rarely accounts for future climate change. Using a series of linked models of climate, land cover, hydrology, and salmon population dynamics, we investigated the impacts of climate change on the effectiveness of proposed habitat restoration efforts designed to recover depleted Chinook salmon populations in a Pacific Northwest river basin. Model results indicate a large negative impact of climate change on freshwater salmon habitat. Habitat restoration and protection can help to mitigate these effects and may allow populations to increase in the face of climate change. The habitat deterioration associated with climate change will, however, make salmon recovery targets much more difficult to attain. Because the negative impacts of climate change in this basin are projected to be most pronounced in relatively pristine, high-elevation streams where little restoration is possible, climate change and habitat restoration together are likely to cause a spatial shift in salmon abundance. River basins that span the current snow line appear especially vulnerable to climate change, and salmon recovery plans that enhance lower-elevation habitats are likely to be more successful over the next 50 years than those that target the higher-elevation basins likely to experience the greatest snow–rain transition.