Theis, S.*  Castellanos D.A., Hamann A. and M.S. Poesch. (2022) Exploring the potential role of habitat banks in preserving freshwater biodiversity and imperiled species in the United States. Biological Conservation 273: 109700.

Citation: Theis, S.  Castellanos D.A., Hamann A. and M.S. Poesch. (2022) Exploring the potential role of habitat banks in preserving freshwater biodiversity and imperiled species in the United States. Biological Conservation 273: 10970.

Abstract

Habitat banking, a conservation approach to offset habitat loss, has been widely accepted and implemented in the United States, especially for the protection of freshwater ecosystems. The potential adequacy of the habitat banking approach has, however, not yet been formally quantified in the context of its underlying framework and policies. Using a gap analysis approach, we test the current adequacy and future potential of habitat banking for 2313 approved and 552 pending banks in the United States. In the analysis, we consider water stress due to projected climate change, freshwater diversity, imperiled species, and human population growth, among other factors. The results show that the highest conservation urgency was assigned to states in the Southwest with high levels of species imperilment and large increases in anticipated water stress. The banking network covers most of the freshwater biodiversity hotspots in the East and Southeast. Land ownership is a potential driver for the low bank density in western states, with large proportions of land being owned and managed through federal agencies and only 58 banks situated on federal land. While the banking network in the United States is one of the most developed on a global level, gaps and priority areas can be clearly identified to strengthen the current network and its role in preserving freshwater habitat and diversity.

Keywords: Offsetting; Conservation policy; Biodiversity market; Preservation.

*Lab members: Sebastian Theis and Mark Poesch. Check out opportunities in the lab!

Theis, S.*  Koops, M. and M.S. Poesch. (In Press) A meta-analysis on the effectiveness of offsetting strategies for harm to freshwater fishes. Environmental Management.

Citation: Theis, S.  Koops, M. and M.S. Poesch. (In Press) A meta-analysis on the effectiveness of offsetting strategies for harm to freshwater fishes. Environmental Management.

Abstract

Offsetting aims to compensate for negative impacts due to authorized anthropogenic impacts. While anchored into legislation through extensive frameworks across many countries, residual or chronic impacts can occur after offset establishment for example because of the ephemeral timescale of some projects. Advice and best practice on how to approach these impacts is rare. To address this, we reviewed 30 projects based on a systematic review and meta-analysis in freshwater ecosystems dealing with residual or long-term negative impacts to provide application advice for the three main identified approaches of: habitat creation, habitat restoration and biological and chemical manipulation. Project information was obtained from scientific databases and grey literature through Boolean search terms and web-scraping. Habitat creation projects, mainly targeting salmonids, had a pooled effect size of 0.8 and offsetting ratios of 1:5 with high biomass increases of over 1.4x compared to pre-establishment, associated with them. Habitat restoration projects targeted a wide range of species and communities with a pooled effect size of 0.66, offset ratios ranging from 1:1.2 to 1:4.6, and biomass increases generally > 1x compared to pre-restoration. Biological manipulation had the lowest effect size (0.51) with stocking efforts being highly variable both in terms of biomass benefits and project outcomes pointing towards stocking being mostly applicable in cases of direct fish harm not related to environmental degradation or habitat loss. Many projects targeted salmonid species and application for a wider range of species needs to be further assessed. We conclude that 1) all three assessed approaches have a potential application use for offsetting Residual or Chronic Harm with approach specific caveats. 2) time to record first benefits required one to two years with time lags needing to be accounted for in the implementation and monitoring process, 3) monitoring timeframes of more than four years and conducting pre-assessments increased projects success significantly.

Keywords: Offsetting; Conservation policy; Biodiversity market; Preservation.

*Lab members: Sebastian Theis and Mark Poesch. Check out opportunities in the lab!

Theis S.*, and M.S. Poesch (2022) Assessing conservation and mitigation banking practices and associated gains and losses in the United States. Sustainability.

Citation: Theis, S.  and M.S. Poesch. (2022) Assessing conservation and mitigation banking practices and associated gains and losses in the United States. Sustainability

Abstract

Conservation and mitigation banks allow proponents to buy credits to offset negative residual impacts of development projects with the goal of No net loss (NNL) in ecosystem function and habitat area. However, little is known about the extend to which bank transactions achieve NNL. We synthesized and reviewed 12756 transactions in the United States as to meeting area and ecological equivalence (n = 4331) between approved negative impact and offset. While most transactions provided an offset equal or greater in area than the impacted area, approximately one quarter of transactions, especially targeting wetlands, did not meet ecological equivalence between impact and offset. Missing ecological equivalence was often due to the significantly increasing use of preservation, enhancement, and rehabilitation over creating new ecosystems through establishment and re-establishment. Stream transactions seldom added new ecosystem area through creation but mainly used rehabilitation to add offset benefits, in many cases leading to net loss of area. Our results suggest that best practice guidance on habitat creation as well as incentivization of habitat creation must increase in the future to avoid net loss trough bank transactions and meet the ever-accelerating global changes in land-use and the increase pressure of climate change.

Keywords: Offsetting; Conservation policy; Biodiversity market; Preservation.

*Lab members: Sebastian Theis and Mark Poesch. Check out opportunities in the lab!

Dutra, M.C.F., Pereyra, P.E.R., Hallwass, G., Poesch, M.S. and R.A.M. Silvano. (In Press). Fishers’ knowledge on trophic ecology and of the tropical ‘super fish’ Plagioscion squamosissimus in two Brazilian Amazonian rivers. Neotropical Ichthyology.

Citation: Dutra, M.C.F., Pereyra, P.E.R., Hallwass, G., Poesch, M.S. and R.A.M. Silvano. (In Press). Fishers’ knowledge on trophic ecology and of the tropical ‘super fish’ Plagioscion squamosissimus in two Brazilian Amazonian rivers. Neotropical Ichthyology.

Abstract

Fishers’ local ecological knowledge (LEK) can provide new data on fish trophic ecology. The pescada (Plagioscion squamosissimus) is among the most caught fishes in small-scale fisheries in the Brazilian Amazon. Our main goal was to evaluate the abundance, size, relevance to small-scale fisheries and trophic ecology (diet and feeding interactions) of P. squamosissimus in the Tapajós and Tocantins rivers, in the Brazilian Amazon, utilizing  data from fishers’ LEK and fish sampling. We hypothesized a higher abundance, size and more prey and predators cited by fishers of P. squamosissimus in the more pristine Tapajós River. We interviewed 61 and 33 fishers and sampled fish in nine and five sites in the Tapajós and Tocantins Rivers, respectively, in 2018. The comparison between fishers’ citations and fish sampled indicated a higher relevance of P. squamosissimus to fishers in the Tapajós River, where this fish had an average larger size and where the interviewed fishers mentioned more food items of P. squamosissimus. These results show that P. squamosissimus is a generalist fish, that is resilient to fishing and environmental pressures, as well as being important to fisheries and food security, and that LEK can provide useful insights to fisheries managers.

Keywords: Offsetting; Conservation policy; Biodiversity market; Preservation.

*Lab members: Mark Poesch. Check out opportunities in the lab!

Ponton D.E., Ruelas-Inzunza J., Lavoie R., Lescord G.L., Johnston T.A., Graydon J.A., Reichert, M., Donadt C., Poesch M.S., Gunn, J.A., and M. Amyot. (2022) Mercury, selenium and arsenic concentrations in Canadian freshwater fish and a perspective on human consumption intake and risk. Journal of Hazardous Materials Advances.

Citation: Ponton D.E., Ruelas-Inzunza J., Lavoie R., Lescord G.L., Johnston T.A., Graydon J.A., Reichert, M., Donadt C., Poesch M.S., Gunn, J.A., and M. Amyot. (2022) Mercury, selenium and arsenic concentrations in Canadian freshwater fish and a perspective on human consumption intake and risk. Journal of Hazardous Materials Advances.

Abstract

Mercury (Hg) and arsenic (As) contamination of fish may limit its human consumption  whereas selenium (Se) can potentially protect fish and consumers from their adverse effects. We related the concentrations of these elements in Canadian freshwater fish to anthropogenic activities and ecozones and compared these concentrations to risk assessment thresholds. Mercury concentrations exceeded the retail fish Canadian threshold (0.5 ppm) in 31% of all Walleye; this proportion rose to 64% in reservoirs. Reservoirs and lakes impacted by logging and urbanization presented higher fish [Hg] than other impacted systems. In mining areas, fish [Hg] were low and negatively correlated with [Se]. Se and As concentrations exceeded Canadian guidelines in 5 and 0.2% of all fish, respectively. A previously unreported negative relationship between mean [As] and [Hg] suggested an inverse consumption risk for these two elements. The ratio Se/Hg was lower than 1 for 14% of all fish and was negatively correlated with fish length. No major differences were seen among fish lengths that reached the Hg guideline and the Se/Hg threshold of 1. Using the benefit-risk value (BRV) threshold that considers Se intake, there were no limit to fish consumption. More studies are needed to assess the role of Se against Hg toxicity and adjust fish consumption guidelines accordingly.

*Lab members:  Mark Poesch. Check out opportunities in the lab!

Theis S.*, and M.S. Poesch (2022) Current capacity, bottlenecks, and future projections for offsetting habitat loss using mitigation and conservation banking in the United States. Journal for Nature Conservation 67:126159.

Citation: Theis S., and M.S. Poesch (2022) Current capacity, bottlenecks, and future projections for offsetting habitat loss using mitigation and conservation banking in the United States assessed through the Regulatory In lieu fee and Bank Information Tracking System. Journal for Nature Conservation 67: 126159.

Abstract

Habitat banking in its many iterations is an established and popular mechanism to deliver environmental offsets. The United States can look back at over 30 years of banking experience with the underlying framework and policies being consistently updated and improved. Given the increased demand in habitat banking, we provide insights into how bank area capacity is distributed across the United States for four different bank targets (wetlands, streams, multiple ecosystems, species) based on information extracted from the Regulatory In-lieu Fee and Bank Information Tracking System, as well as, estimating future capacities and area reserves through a predictive modeling approach based on data from the past 26 years. Future predictions indicate a decrease in available reserves for banks targeting wetlands or multiple ecosystems, with potential bottlenecks relating to large reserves being limited to the southeast and release schedules not catching up to the current and anticipated demand. Banks targeting species or streams are predicted to meet future demand, with species banks (conservation banks) following a different legislative and operational approach based on the listing of endangered species and pro-active approaches with anticipated future demand. Most current reserves for all four bank types are restricted to very few service areas with around one-third of all bank areas still awaiting release, limiting their availability on a broader scale. Strategic planning networks are necessary to meet future demand on a national scale and to identify areas suitable for banking or likely to experience future environmental or developmental stress.

*Lab members: Sebastian Theis and Mark Poesch. Check out opportunities in the lab!

Edgar M.*, Hanington P., Lu R., Proctor H., Zurawell R., Kimmel N. and M.S. Poesch (2022) The First Documented Occurrence and Life History Characteristics of the Chinese Mystery Snail (Cipangopaludina chinensis, Mollusca: Viviparidae) in Alberta, Canada. BioInvasions Records 11(2): 449-460.

Citation: Edgar M.*, Hanington P., Lu R., Proctor H., Zurawell R., Kimmel N. and M.S. Poesch (2022) The First Documented Occurrence and Life History Characteristics of the Chinese Mystery Snail (Cipangopaludina chinensis, Mollusca: Viviparidae) in Alberta, Canada. BioInvasions Records 11(2): 449-460. 

Abstract

 The Chinese mystery snail Cipangopaludina fhinensis (Gray, 1834), a species native to Asia, is documented for the first time in Alberta, Canada, in McGregor Lake Reservoir in 2019. Here, we describe the initial finding of C. chinensis in Alberta, Canada, and biological information that may aid management efforts. Collected specimens were confirmed as C. chinensis through DNA barcoding. Analysis of growth rate, fecundity, and infection by digenean trematodes was assessed. It is unknown how C. chinensis arrived in Alberta. However, this species’ ability to withstand environmental stressors, such as desiccation, facilitates overland and long-distance transport via recreationists or deliberate release of C. chinensis into waterbodies. Snails collected from McGregor Lake Reservoir matched with GenBank results for C. chinensis from Korea. Analysis of digenean trematodes revealed that the population in McGregor Lake are not infected, as there were no cercariae present after 24 hours. Growth assessment over a period of 60 weeks revealed that shell length growth quickly outpaces growth in shell width. Upon emergence, C. chinensis are larger than many native snail species. The expansion of C. chinensis into Alberta poses potential negative consequences, such as decreased native snail biomass, increased nitrogen to phosphorus ratios, and additive impacts when paired with other invasive species.

*Lab members: Megan Edgar and Mark Poesch. Check out opportunities in the lab!

Theis, S.*, Ruppert, J.*, Shirton, J.* and M.S. Poesch (2022) Measuring beta diversity components and beneficial effects of coarse woody habitat introduction on invertebrate and macrophyte communities in a shallow northern boreal lake: implications for offsetting. Aquatic Ecology.

Citation: Theis, S., Ruppert, J., Shirton, J. and M.S. Poesch (2022) Measuring beta diversity components and beneficial effects of coarse woody habitat introduction on invertebrate and macrophyte communities in a shallow northern boreal lake: implications for offsetting. Aquatic Ecology.

Abstract

Structural habitat enhancement has been long established as a popular tool to counter habitat loss due from land-use and development. One enhancement approach is the introduction of Coarse Woody Habitat (CWH) to improve the establishment of macrophyte, macroinvertebrate, and fish communities. Here we assess the benefit of CWH in Northern boreal lakes in the context of mitigation projects. We constructed Coarse Woody Habitat structures in a structure-less littoral zone of Lake Steepbank within the Oil Sands Region of Alberta, Canada. Enhancement structures featured increased macrophyte and invertebrate richness and biomass compared to reference sites and pre-treatment assessments over the course of three years. Enhanced sites also retained improved richness (macrophytes), diversity (macroinvertebrates) and biomass (both), despite STIN loss and degradation of enhancement structures over time. Using beta diversity components, constituting richness agreement, community differentiation and site relationships, and testing their relative importance revealed that replacement was more dominant for invertebrates and increasing similarity more important for macrophyte communities post-enhancement. Our study shows the value of CWH addition for macroinvertebrate and macrophyte communities in what is otherwise a structure-less environment. Community changes over time showcase how beta diversity should be more strongly incorporated in restoration and enhancement studies to quantify community shifts that otherwise would not be captured in alternative diversity measures.

*Lab members: Sebastian Theis, Jonathan Ruppert, Jesse Shirton and Mark Poesch. Check out opportunities in the lab!

Medinski, N.A.*, Maitland, B.M.*, Jardine, T.D., Drake, D.A.R. and M.S. Poesch (2022) A catastrophic coal mine spill in the Athabasca River watershed induces isotopic niche shifts in stream biota including an endangered rainbow trout ecotype. Canadian Journal for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

Citation: Medinski, N.A., Maitland, B.M., Jardine, T.D., Drake, D.A.R. and M.S. Poesch (2022) A catastrophic coal mine spill in the Athabasca River watershed induces isotopic niche shifts in stream biota including an endangered rainbow trout ecotype. Canadian Journal for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

Abstract

Freshwater biodiversity is declining from impacts associated with anthropogenic stressors. Here, we use carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotopes to assess food web effects following a coal mine spill that displaced biota and altered biophysical stream characteristics. We compared isotopic niche metrics of benthic macroinvertebrates and the fish community, including non-native brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and endangered Athabasca rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), to infer spatial differences in site-specific resource use along a habitat disturbance gradient. Predatory benthic macroinvertebrate trophic position was elevated where impacts from the spill were most pronounced. Autochthonous carbon contribution to consumer diets was lowest in biota sampled at the most highly impacted site from the mine spill, leading to an unexpected expansion of the isotopic niche size of rainbow trout and the aquatic invertebrate community. Collectively, our results suggest spatial variation in trophic resource assimilation across multiple levels of the food web, fuelled by the allochthonous energy pathway in highly impacted study sites. We conclude this reflects a biotic response to altered basal aquatic resources following a major industrial disturbance.

*Lab members: Nathan Medinski, Bryan Maitland, Mark Poesch. Check out opportunities in the lab!

Roberts, K.N.*, Lund, T.*, Hayden, B. and M.S. Poesch (2022) Season and species influence stable isotope ratios between lethally and non-lethally sampled tissues in freshwater fish. Journal of Fish Biology 100 (1): 229-241.

Citation: Roberts, K.N., Lund, T., Hayden, B. and M.S. Poesch (2022) Season and species influence stable isotope ratios between lethally and non-lethally sampled tissues in freshwater fish. Journal of Fish Biology 100 (1): 229-241. DOI: 10.1111/jfb.14939

Finalist for FSBI Huntingford Medal. Note: One of two papers that received the “Highly Commended” designation.

Abstract

The field of stable isotope ecology is moving away from lethal sampling (internal organs and muscle) towards non-lethal sampling (fins, scales and epidermal mucus). Lethally and non-lethally sampled tissues often differ in their stable isotope ratios due to differences in metabolic turnover rate and isotopic routing. If not accounted for when using non-lethal tissues, these differences may result in inaccurate estimates of resource use and trophic position derived from stable isotopes. To address this, the authors tested whether tissue type, season and their interaction influence the carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios of fishes and whether estimates of species trophic position and resource use are affected by tissue type, season and their interaction. This study developed linear conversion relationships between two fin types and dorsal muscle, accounting for seasonal variation. The authors focused on three common temperate freshwater fishes: northern pike Esox lucius, yellow perch Perca flavescens and lake whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis. They found that fins were enriched in 13C and depleted in 15N compared to muscle in all three species, but the effect of season and the interaction between tissue type and season were species and isotope dependent. The estimates of littoral resource use based on fin isotope ratios were between 13% and 36% greater than those based on muscle across species. Season affected this difference for some species, suggesting the potential importance of using season-specific conversions when working with non-lethal tissues. Fin and muscle stable isotopes produced similar estimates of trophic position for northern pike and yellow perch, but fin-based estimates were 0.2–0.4 trophic positions higher than muscle-based estimates for lake whitefish. The effect of season was negligible for estimates of trophic position in all species. Strong correlations existed between fin and muscle δ13C and δ15N values for all three species; thus, linear conversion relationships were developed. The results of this study support the use of non-lethal sampling in stable isotope studies of fishes. The authors suggest that researchers use tissue conversion relationships and account for seasonal variation in these relationships when differences between non-lethal tissues and muscle,
and seasonal effects on those differences, are large relative to the scale of isotope values under investigation and/or the trophic discrimination factors under use.

*Lab members: Karling Roberts, Mark Poesch. Check out opportunities in the lab!