Researchers at The University of Montana and the U.S. Geological Survey recently developed a new tool for modeling fish populations in rivers. An article detailing the Cost Distance FISHeries simulator appears in the August issue of the science journal Conservation Genetics Resources. It is available online at http://www.springerlink.com/content/v728723336j5ut10/.
CDFISH was developed by UM research Assistant Professor Erin Landguth, Associate Professor Gordon Luikart of the Flathead Lake Biological Station and USGS scientist Clint Muhlfeld. The project was funded by the USGS through a grant from the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative.
CDFISH is a population dynamics model for aquatic systems to track individual fish as they move through a river system. It is different than existing models because it incorporates biological rules for fish movement and migration as functions of complex stream features such as water temperature and flow, habitat complexity, physical barriers, elevation and slope. CDFISH also tracks the genetic makeup and demographic vulnerability of fisheries through time.
"It allows you to ask questions about how riverscapes influence fish movement, dynamics and genetics,” Landguth said. “In light of climate change and changing riverscape scenarios, we could use CDFISH to help us produce vulnerability maps to guide restoration strategies for protection of the most threatened stream segments and subpopulations at risk of extinction.”