We provide an overview of an interdisciplinary special issue that examines the influence of climate change on people and fish in the Yakima River Basin, USA. Jenni et al. (2013) addresses stakeholder-relevant climate change issues, such as water availability and uncertainty, with decision analysis tools. Montag et al. (2014) explores Yakama Tribal cultural values and well-being and their incorporation into the decision-making process. Graves and Maule (2012) simulates effects of climate change on stream temperatures under baseline conditions (1981–2005) and two future climate scenarios (increased air temperature of 1 °C and 2 °C). Hardiman and Mesa (2013) looks at the effects of increased stream temperatures on juvenile steelhead growth with a bioenergetics model. Finally, Hatten et al. (2013) examines how changes in stream flow will affect salmonids with a rule-based fish habitat model. Our simulations indicate that future summer will be a very challenging season for salmonids when low flows and high water temperatures can restrict movement, inhibit or alter growth, and decrease habitat. While some of our simulations indicate salmonids may benefit from warmer water temperatures and increased winter flows, the majority of simulations produced less habitat. The floodplain and tributary habitats we sampled are representative of the larger landscape, so it is likely that climate change will reduce salmonid habitat potential throughout particular areas of the basin. Management strategies are needed to minimize potential salmonid habitat bottlenecks that may result from climate change, such as keeping streams cool through riparian protection, stream restoration, and the reduction of water diversions. An investment in decision analysis and support technologies can help managers understand tradeoffs under different climate scenarios and possibly improve water and fish conservation over the next century.
Additional publication details
Assessing climate-change risks to cultural and natural resources in the Yakima River Basin, Washington, USA