Integrating subsistence practice and species distribution modeling: assessing invasive elodea’s potential impact on Native Alaskan subsistence of Chinook salmon and whitefish

Product Type: 

Journal Article

Year: 

2016

Author(s): 

Luizza, M. W., P. H. Evangelista, C. S. Jarnevich, A. West, and H. Stewart

Suggested Citation: 

Luizza, M. W., P. H. Evangelista, C. S. Jarnevich, A. West, and H. Stewart. 2016. Integrating subsistence practice and species distribution modeling: assessing invasive elodea’s potential impact on Native Alaskan subsistence of Chinook salmon and whitefish. Environmental Management 58:144-163. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-016-0692-4

Alaska has one of the most rapidly changing climates on earth and is experiencing an accelerated rate of human disturbance, including resource extraction and transportation infrastructure development. Combined, these factors increase the state’s vulnerability to biological invasion, which can have acute negative impacts on ecological integrity and subsistence practices. Of growing concern is the spread of Alaska’s first documented freshwater aquatic invasive plant Elodea spp. (elodea). In this study, we modeled the suitable habitat of elodea using global and state-specific species occurrence records and environmental variables, in concert with an ensemble of model algorithms. Furthermore, we sought to incorporate local subsistence concerns by using Native Alaskan knowledge and available statewide subsistence harvest data to assess the potential threat posed by elodea to Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and whitefish (Coregonus nelsonii) subsistence. State models were applied to future climate (2040–2059) using five general circulation models best suited for Alaska. Model evaluations indicated that our results had moderate to strong predictability, with area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve values above 0.80 and classification accuracies ranging from 66 to 89 %. State models provided a more robust assessment of elodea habitat suitability. These ensembles revealed different levels of management concern statewide, based on the interaction of fish subsistence patterns, known spawning and rearing sites, and elodea habitat suitability, thus highlighting regions with additional need for targeted monitoring. Our results suggest that this approach can hold great utility for invasion risk assessments and better facilitate the inclusion of local stakeholder concerns in conservation planning and management.

      

Catherine Jarnevich
Catherine JarnevichAmanda West