What is Aquatic GAP?
The Southeastern Aquatic GAP project was initiated to identify conservation areas in river basins where aquatic biodiversity and endemism are higher than other temperate rivers. As part of a regional assessment of the ACT/ACF basins, we have developed techniques to incorporate geospatial data to analyze aquatic species distribution in relation to local and landscape features and identify conservation potential of specific subwatersheds. By August 2004 two portions of the ACT will be completed under the current contract with U.S. Geological Survey (see attached figure). Methodologies have been developed and have proved effective for model construction in the Tallapoosa and Flint River basins (Peterson et al. 2003; Turner et al. 2004). Faunal groups that we are modeling include fishes, mussels, snails and crayfishes. We seek funding to complete the ACT Aquatic GAP. The project expansion would allow an additional 27,700 km2 of large river basin habitat (25% of Alabama’s riverine habitat ) to be assessed for conservation potential in Alabama. Large river habitats were considered a top priority for assessment and development of conservation strategies (Mirarchi et al. 2004). The resulting database will include species and community data for over 184 freshwater fishes and all mussel species from the ACT. Limited data on crayfishes and aquatic herps are also available for model construction. Completion of the ACT Aquatic GAP will allow for development of decision support systems (DSS) to help natural resource managers make informative decisions for land and riverine management and landscape level conservation planning. In addition, we will develop water quality-land use economic models that will be valuable for assessing restoration activities. Water quality models will also be applied to relate faunal distributions to landscape and land use variables (including economic assessment of land use and potential for land use change). These will be exceptional contributions to the DSS.