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Natural Resources & Energy

Study Finds High Energy Development Is Hard On Fish

Anthropogenic land-use change intensifies the effect of low flow on stream fishes
Richard Walker
/
Journal of Applied Ecology 57: 149-159
Anthropogenic land-use change intensifies the effect of low flow on stream fishes

Areas with high energy development near streams can reduce the quality of the water habitat, and that can have a negative effect on the ability of fish to persist over time. That's according to new research by the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit that was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Richard Walker is the researcher behind the study, and is currently a postdoc with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). His research tries to understand how fish interact with the environment they live in and what factors change their population, specifically how fish that live in a freshwater environment are responding to things like energy development.

Walker and his team studied 64 sites over the course of seven years and collected fish using backpack electrofishing and found that high energy development near streams can reduce the quality of water habitat.

He said understanding the relationship between fish and their environment can give us a better idea of how those changes to the ecosystem might eventually impact us as humans.

"We rely on fresh water just as much as the organisms do and with individuals having the 'pick up your trash, or leave no trace behind' kind of mentality, there's less plastics and those types of pollutants entering the streams," Walker added.

Walker added, "if we can truly understand what's happening on the landscape, and in nature, we can better manage those systems."

This story is supported by a grant through Wyoming EPSCoR and the National Science Foundation.

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