ESR03 - Quantification of habitat alterations on the fish community

Host Institution: KAU - Karlstad University

Anthropogenic stressors have drastically reduced riverine fish habitat and changed many fundamental processes that make rivers distinct. Developing universal approaches to better understand the key mechanisms contributing to the degradation of riverine fish habitat is a necessary first step. One specific challenge is quantifying the direct and indirect effects of such stressors on fish habitat in rivers from a community perspective. Various disciplines have developed means to quantify habitat for specific taxa (e.g., atlantic salmon), but knowledge gaps exist when considering different spatial scales (e.g., full riverscape). Incorporating landscape ecological concepts into habitat suitability modeling is one promising research path that considers the entire riverscape. River biophysical processes, drivers of fish community change, fish community dynamics, and fish biodiversity are functionally tied to the riverscape view of fish habitat and thus have become essential research topics as restoration efforts strive for more ambitious goals.

The project will link landscape, habitat and fish behavior to river alterations and rehabilitation scenarios.  Specific goals will explore the following 1) use Riverwave theory to identify habitat metrics and impacts of river alterations, 2) quantify which habitat alterations influence the assembly of riverine fish communities, 3) model riverine fish communities dynamics in the presence of natural river alterations and anthropogenic habitat alterations, and 4) evaluate restoration alternatives with accurate metrics related to connectivity and fish biodiversity in dammed river systems. The application of GIS and Bayesian statistics for these questions will help practitioners inform future development of habitat suitability models, management of riverine fish communities, and decision-making of river restoration scenarios regarding barriers.

Secondment period (to be confirmed): Expected duration: 7 months; Hosting institutions: POLITO (Politecnico di Torino - Torino, Italy), IREN (IREN Energia SpA - Torino, Italy), SJE (SJE Ecohyrdaulic Engineering GmbH - Stuttgart, Germany)

Work package

Early Stages Researcher