Aquatic Systems


The Aquatic Systems (AS) Branch at the Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) is a team of scientists dedicated to advancing interdisciplinary science and providing science support to solve water-related environmental issues. The major research themes for this branch are: Riparian Ecology, Ecological Flows, Hydroscape Ecology, Aquatic Ecology and Contaminants, and Decision Support Systems. Natural resource managers have an increasing need for scientific information and stakeholders face enormous challenges of increasing and competing demands for water. The AS Branch employs and develops state-of-the-science approaches in field investigations, laboratory experiments, remote sensing, simulation and predictive modeling, and decision support tools. We use the aquatic experimental laboratory, the greenhouse, the botanical garden and other advanced facilities to conduct unique research. Our scientists pursue research on the ground, in the rivers, and in the skies, generating and testing hypotheses and collecting quantitative information to support planning and design in natural resource management and aquatic restoration. 

Read the Aquatic Systems Branch Fact Sheet to learn more.

Branch Chief

Quan Dong 970-226-9175


Fisheries Conservation and Management

Five of FORT aquatic scientists’ projects focus on the conservation and management of fisheries. The first investigates the effects of barriers on fish movements in the Great Plains streams. The decline of many Plains fishes is attributed to habitat fragmentation of rivers that impedes movement and limits juvenile recruitment (Walters and Zuellig). This hypothesis has been difficult to test, due to the challenge of tracking small fishes in large systems. FORT scientists tracked movement of Flathead Chub in a Colorado plains stream and found that small fish do migrate upstream to spawn. These movements are effectively blocked by small diversion structures common throughout the plains and western United States....