Integrating subsistence practice and species distribution modeling: assessing invasive elodea’s potential impact on Native Alaskan subsistence of Chinook salmon and whitefish

Environmental Management
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Abstract

Alaska has one of the most rapidly changing climates on earth and is experiencing an accelerated rate of human disturbance, including resource extraction and transportation infrastructure development. Combined, these factors increase the state’s vulnerability to biological invasion, which can have acute negative impacts on ecological integrity and subsistence practices. Of growing concern is the spread of Alaska’s first documented freshwater aquatic invasive plant Elodea spp. (elodea). In this study, we modeled the suitable habitat of elodea using global and state-specific species occurrence records and environmental variables, in concert with an ensemble of model algorithms. Furthermore, we sought to incorporate local subsistence concerns by using Native Alaskan knowledge and available statewide subsistence harvest data to assess the potential threat posed by elodea to Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and whitefish (Coregonus nelsonii) subsistence. State models were applied to future climate (2040–2059) using five general circulation models best suited for Alaska. Model evaluations indicated that our results had moderate to strong predictability, with area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve values above 0.80 and classification accuracies ranging from 66 to 89 %. State models provided a more robust assessment of elodea habitat suitability. These ensembles revealed different levels of management concern statewide, based on the interaction of fish subsistence patterns, known spawning and rearing sites, and elodea habitat suitability, thus highlighting regions with additional need for targeted monitoring. Our results suggest that this approach can hold great utility for invasion risk assessments and better facilitate the inclusion of local stakeholder concerns in conservation planning and management.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Integrating subsistence practice and species distribution modeling: assessing invasive elodea’s potential impact on Native Alaskan subsistence of Chinook salmon and whitefish
Series title Environmental Management
DOI 10.1007/s00267-016-0692-4
Volume 58
Issue 1
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 19 p.
First page 144
Last page 163
Country United States
State Alaska
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N