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Habitat Monitoring

Seagrass - Salt Marsh - Anadromous Fish Habitat

Anadromous Fish Habitat

A variety of biotic and physicochemical data should be monitored at restored fish runs.

  • Water temperature and current speed at the fishway should be monitored regularly, especially during the duration of the run.
  • Observations of water turbidity should be made regularly.
  • Seasonal (summer) juvenile fish surveys should be conducted that targets juveniles to monitor yearly production and gain information on future adult abundance.
  • Adult fish surveys should be conducted in deeper water above the impediment or at the base of the dam using gill nets.
  • Observations and visual estimates of fish entering or leaving fishways can be used to gauge fish migration.

Volunteers can often be used to gather data on fishway activity, flow rates, water temperature, and turbidity. Careful monitoring is critical in the first season following restoration of the fish run to identify any problems with the design of the fishway.

Duration of Monitoring
Monitoring should be continued yearly until it is evident that a sustainable fishery has been reestablished for the river or stream in which the impediments have been removed or modified. Periodic monitoring thereafter should be continued for the life of the fishway in order to maintain the function of the fishway, and to keep long-term records on water quality and flow patterns.

Concrete and aluminum fishways are durable and long lasting. Wood construction, although less expensive initially, generally requires more maintenance over the long term. Routine clearing of debris from the fishway and quickly repairing any damage that may occur is critical.

The principles of Adaptive Management have been incorporated into the administration of habitat restoration projects within a variety of governmental funding authorities and programs (Thom 1997). Comprehensive, long-term monitoring is a component of adaptive management, which relies on the accumulation of evidence (via long-term monitoring) to support a decision that demands action. If established early in the project planning phase and implemented during successive monitoring and management phases, adaptive management can be a powerful method to systematically assess and improve the performance of restored ecosystems (Thom 2000).

A well-designed restoration monitoring program will allow project managers to detect deviation from projected results months, years, or decades following construction. For example, yearly monitoring of a waterway following installation of a fishway might reveal seasonal water quality problems or episodic sedimentation events. The specific design features of a fishway may require enhancement or modification during successive years to optimize fish passage.

Monitoring data can be used by project managers to demonstrate the ability of the project to meet stated goals and objectives. This is especially important in promoting the benefits of fish run restoration to funding agencies, potential partners or sponsors for future restoration projects, and the general public. Finally, long-term monitoring data allows managers to learn from early projects, and avoid potential pitfalls in successive restoration efforts (Thom and Wellman 1997).

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Thom, R.M. 1997. System-development matrix for adaptive management of coastal ecosystem restoration projects. Ecological Engineering 8:219-232.

Thom, R.M. 2000. Adaptive management of coastal ecosystem restoration projects. Ecological Engineering 15:365-372.

Thom, R.M. and K.F. Wellman. 1997. Planning aquatic ecosystem restoration monitoring programs. Evaluation of Environmental Investments Research Program, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources, Alexandria VA. IWR Report 96-R-23.

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Project Partner web pages - RIHRT, CRMC, NBEP, STB

This site was created through a partnership of the:

Coastal Resources Management Council
Narragansett Bay Estuary Program
Save The Bay®