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UncertaintyWhat is the current range of biological diversity (life history and genetic) of fish and wildlife populations in Columbia River Basin ecosystems, and how is that diversity in focal populations influenced by geographic location and changing environmental conditions?
ThemePopulation structure and diversity
SubthemeDistribution - genetics/environment
Sources SRG 93-3: Critical Uncertainties in the Program
Estuary Synthesis Report
Criticality Level Priority
Rationale This uncertainty reflects inadequate knowledge about existing biological diversity and its role in maintaining viable populations of fish and wildlife in the Basin. Human actions, including fisheries have reduced the range of life history strategies and genetic diversity in many native fish populations. Although the scope of the uncertainty is long-term and basinwide, efforts to monitor trends in diversity are needed to help understand factors responsible for changes in diversity and to guide management actions to restore habitat loss and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Maintaining diversity is considered essential to long-term sustainability, as described in the scientific principles that guide the Program. Genetic differences arising from geographical isolation among salmonid populations are well documented (e.g., Project # 2009-005-00 "Influence of environment and landscape on salmonid genetics"), but our understanding of the long-term consequences of these differences for ecological and evolutionary performance is more theoretical. Patterns of genetic diversity in widely distributed species, like cutthroat trout, offer an opportunity to assess where historical watershed connections may have existed and can help to explain the current distribution of biological diversity across a landscape (e.g., Loxterman and Keeley 2012).

last updated: Jan 27, 2016