Native diadromous fishes have been extirpated from much of the Susquehanna River system for nearly a century. Recent restoration efforts have focused on removal of dams, but there are hundreds of dams and presently there is no biologically based system to assist in prioritizing their removal. We present a new method that uses existing habitat suitability index models (HSI) for American shad Alosa sapidissima, alewife A. pseudoharengus, blueback herring A. aestivalis, and American eel Anguilla rostrata to prioritize the removal of non-hydropower dams within the Susquehanna River system. We ranked HSI scores for each of the four species, association between a landscape-scale factor and HSIs, length of river opened by removing a dam, and distance from the mouth at Chesapeake Bay for each dam and then calculated a mean rank prioritization for dam removal by averaging the ranks for the seven criteria. This prioritization method is resistant to outliers, is not strongly affected by somewhat arbitrary decisions on metrics included in the analysis, and provides a biologically based prioritization for dam removal that can be easily amended to include other metrics or adapted to other river systems and that complements other social and economic considerations that must be included in decisions to remove dams.
Additional publication details
Prioritizing removal of dams for passage of diadromous fishes on a major river system