Montana State University
PO Box 173460
Bozeman, MT 59717
M.S. Ecology, Utah State University
B.A. Biology & Environmental Studies, St. Olaf College
Ph.D. In progress. Evaluating the availability and use of cold-water thermal refugia for Arctic grayling and other salmonids in the upper Big Hole River watershed, MT.
A diverse assemblage of stakeholders is contributing resources to conserve and recover fluvial Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus) in the upper Big Hole River watershed (southwestern Montana), the last area in the lower 48 states where a reproductively-viable assemblage of this grayling life-history type persists. At present, fluvial Arctic grayling occupy less than 5% of the historic range in Montana, and monitoring of the Big Hole River population suggests distribution and abundance are declining. Understanding Arctic grayling movement and habitat use within the Big Hole River watershed is essential for conservation planning and effective habitat restoration. In particular, the availability and use of cold-water refugia may be a critical factor affecting summer survival of fluvial Arctic grayling and, concomitantly, the persistence of this population.
In this project, our overall goal is to investigate relationships between stream habitat conditions, fish community composition, and Arctic grayling distribution, abundance, and movement patterns in the upper Big Hole River. Our specific objectives are to: 1) evaluate the spatial and temporal availability of cold-water thermal refugia in the upper Big Hole River watershed, 2) compare and contrast the use of cold-water thermal refugia by fluvial Arctic grayling and nonnative salmonids, and 3) use this information to prioritize future habitat restoration projects and evaluate past habitat restoration efforts.
Vatland, S., P. Budy, and G. Thiede. 2008. A bioenergetics approach to modeling striped bass and threadfin shad predator-prey dynamics in Lake Powell, Utah-Arizona. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 137:262–277.
Vatland, S., and P. Budy. 2007. Predicting the invasion success of an introduced omnivore in a large, heterogeneous reservoir. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 64:1329-1345.