Impacts of urban development patterns and climate change on habitat connectivity for Pacific salmon under future scenarios in the Pacific Northwest
Marina Alberti, Professor of Urban Design and Planning, University of Washington
This working group aims to characterize the complex, reciprocal interactions between land cover change, climate, and habitat productivity for Pacific salmon in the Pacific Northwest over the next 50 years to inform public policy decisions about land use and environmental management. Specifically, we will investigate current and forecast future space-time patterns in riverscape habitat connectivity and productivity in relation to changing climate, urbanization, and population growth, and quantify implications for Pacific salmon. We will accomplish this by developing and implementing a spatially explicit, integrated, stochastic model system that couples urban development, land cover, hydrology and climate to salmon population dynamics. The working group has 4 core objectives: 1) Develop an integrated climate-land-cover change model system to assess salmon habitat connectivity and productivity under future scenarios, 2) identify the areas where habitat connectivity for Pacific salmon is likely to be severely compromised in the next several decades, and where mitigation strategies will be most impactful, 3) predict the impacts on salmon habitat connectivity and productivity resulting from alternative, divergent future scenarios including climate, population growth, and policies and 4) quantify the uncertainty in modeling the interactions among land use, land cover, hydrology, and climate systems affect the assessment of climate change and urbanization impacts on salmon habitat quality. To meet our objectives, this working group will be interdisciplinary and will include experts in urban ecology, geospatial analyses, climate science, and salmon biology/ecology. Outcomes from the model system will inform conservation decisions facing organizations committed to reverse recent population declines in Pacific salmon. For example, model outcomes could support mandates for fish-friendly passages in high priority reaches where our models predict barriers due to urban development, and promote riparian vegetation restoration in areas where our models predict intense stream warming, thus providing shading and cooler waters to eliminate potential thermal barriers.