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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Making decisions in complex landscapes: Headwater stream management across multiple agencies using structured decision making"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 | 10:30 am
Or join us LIVE: 134 Morrill Science Center Conference Room, UMass Amherst
Rachel Katz, UMass Amherst
Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Environmental Conservation, UMass Amherst

There is growing evidence that headwater stream ecosystems are vulnerable to changing climate and land use, but their conservation is challenged by the need to address the threats at a landscape scale, often through coordination with multiple management agencies and landowners. A decision faced by managers of headwater systems is how to best manage stream habitats to maximize their suitability for multiple species of conservation concern, including stream salamanders and brook trout, which occur in different parts of a stream network, are affected by both the terrestrial landscape and each other, and are likely influenced by future climate change. Because streams and terrestrial habitats are linked, decisions relating to forest management are often linked with stream ecosystem outcomes. Regional management authorities have two important scales of management objectives: long-term objectives that operate at the regional scale and short-term  objectives that operate at the local scale and reflected in agency mandates and missions. Identifying obstacles to and opportunities for shared decision making among resource agencies and managers may lead to improvements in the selection of optimal management strategies for landscape-scale resources.This project provides an example of cooperative landscape decision-making to address the conservation of headwater stream ecosystems in the face of climate change using case studies from two watersheds in the northeastern U.S.

Rachel A. Katz is a post-doctoral researcher with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit and the Northeast Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (NE ARMI) at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. She recently completed her dissertation at the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia, where she studied flow-ecology relationships to better inform streamflow management. Specifically, her research focused on quantifying the influence of streamflow and geomorphology dynamics on fish population dynamics in southeastern US streams. During her doctoral studies, she also worked with the USFWS National Conservation Training Center and USGS to frame and develop decision-making tools for a wide range of conservation problems that involved multiple natural resource managers and scientists. She recently began her post-doctoral work at UMASS, which will explore the benefits of and barriers to large scale collaborative conservation for the protection northeastern headwater streams.


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