Climate Change Adaptation and Restoration of Western Trout Streams: Opportunities and Strategies

Williams, J.E. et al. | Fisheries | 2015 | Peer Reviewed | Original research |


Climate change is contributing to the severity and rate of stream degradation by changing the timing of peak flows, altering flow regimes, creating more frequent and intense disturbances, and increasing stream temperatures. Herein we describe three case studies of trout stream adaptation that address existing and climate-driven causes of degradation through habitat restoration. The case studies vary in geography and complexity, but all include restoration efforts intended to address multiple causes of stream degradation and improve the resilience of these streams to floods, droughts, and wildfires. Four elements of successful climate adaptation projects emerge: (1) habitat assessments that help drive project location and design, (2) projects that directly address climate change impacts and increase habitat resilience, (3) projects that combine to achieve watershed-scale impacts, and (4) projects that include sufficient monitoring to determine their effectiveness. We describe solutions to common challenges in conducting climate change adaptation, including how to balance scientific assessments with opportunities when choosing projects, how smaller projects can be aggregated to achieve watershed-scale benefits, and how citizen science efforts can augment monitoring programs.