This project is led by Joel Houston
The objective of this project is to identify the effectiveness of cattle exclusion on the habitat value and occupancy of sport fish and mountain suckers in aquatic ecosystems. This will be accomplished by fencing off sections of degraded streams in vicinity of existing mountain sucker populations, and monitoring the response of mountain sucker and their forage resources (benthic macroinvertebrates communities) in a before-after-control-impact (BACI) study design. To monitor for the effectiveness of this mitigation, fish will be captured using a combination of fish traps/nets and an electro-fisher.
The study design and sampling method will allow us to compare the effectiveness of riparian conservation through cattle exclusion in an effort to isolate these potential impacts on the populations and habitat. Forage resources will be collected using nets and Hess Samplers in referenced and fenced sections to monitor for changes in the community structure brought about through cattle exclusion. During our project, land owners will be engaged to permit access during the study and encouraged to support mountain sucker conservation. The findings from our experiment will be used to create BMPs for WSA water managers, regional staff, and landowners.