Proceedings of a workshop on the development and evaluation of habitat suitability criteria: A compilation of papers and discussions presented at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, December 8-12, 1986

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The development of reliable habitat suitability criteria is critical to the successful implementation of the Instream Flow Incremental Methodology (IFIM), or any other habitat based evaluation technology. It is also a fascinating topic of research, for several reasons. First, the “science” of habitat quantification is relatively young. Descriptions of habitat use and partitioning can be traced back to Darwin, if not further. Attempts to actually quantify habitat use can be found predominantly during the last two decades, with most of the activity occurring in about the last five years. Second, this work is challenging because we are usually working with fish or some other organism that lives out of sight in an environment that is foreign to humans. Most of the data collection techniques that have been developed for standard fisheries work are unsuited, without modification, for criteria development. These factors make anyone involved in this type of research a pioneer, of sorts. Pioneers often make new and wonderful discoveries, but they also sometimes get lost. In our opinion, however, there is an even more rewarding aspect to criteria development research. It seems that the field of biology has tended to become increasingly clinical over the years. Criteria development demands the unobtrusive observation of organisms in their natural environment, a fact that allows the biological to be a naturalist and still get paid for it.

The relative youth and importance of habitat quantification have resulted in rapid advancements in the state of the art. The expansion of methods is vividly demonstrated simply by comparing the two Instream Flow Information Papers written on the subject in 1978 and in 1986. One of the missions of the Aquatic Systems Branch (formerly the Instream Flow Group) is to serve as a clearinghouse for new techniques and methods. In keeping with this role, a workshop was conducted during December 1986 to discuss current and newly evolving methods for developing and evaluating habitat suitability criteria. Participation in this workshop was largely by invitation only. The objective was to obtain insights into problems and possible solutions to criteria development, from the perspective of professionals closely involved with the subject. These proceedings of that workshop are intended to supplement the information contained in Instream Flow Information Paper 21, "Development and Evaluation of Habitat Suitability Criteria for Use in the Instream Flow Incremental Methodology."

The workshop was closely arranged in five sessions, roughly following the outline of Information Paper 21. The first session dealt with various aspects of study design and how they can influence the outcome of a study. Session two investigated techniques for developing criteria from professional judgment, and some of the problems encountered when personal or agency prejudice enters the picture. Session three concentrated on field data collection procedures, whereas session four examined methods of converting field data into curves. Field verification studies were discussed in session five.

Each presentation in the workshop was followed by a question and answer period of 15 to 30 minutes. These discussions were recorded, transcribed, and appended to the end of each paper in these proceedings. We have attempted to capture the essence of these discussions as accurately as possible, but hope that the reader can appreciate the difficulty in translating a free-ranging discussion (from a barely audible tape) to something that makes sense in print. These question and answer sessions constitute the peer review for each of the papers. This provides the reader with the unique opportunity to review the interactions between authors and reviewers.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book
Publication Subtype Conference publication
Title Proceedings of a workshop on the development and evaluation of habitat suitability criteria: A compilation of papers and discussions presented at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, December 8-12, 1986
Year Published 1988
Language English
Publisher U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Description 407 p.
Conference Title Workshop on the Development and Evaluation of Habitat Suitability Criteria
Conference Location Fort Collins, CO
Conference Date 1986-12-08T00:00:00
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