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AFS Fish Habitat Section-Symposia Abstract Deadline Extended to
April 3!

Fellow Fish Habitat Section Members,

As you know, the AFS Annual meeting in Atlantic City will be jam packed with symposia related to fisheries habitat. Your Fish Habitat Section is sponsoring or co-sponsoring a record 16 symposia this year! We are so excited to be supporting the leadership and efforts of all of the organizers to provide these symposia.

The only thing better than a slate of symposia full of fish habitat is that you still have a chance to be a part of the excitement as a presenter. The deadline for abstracts has been extended to April 3! We encourage you to contact the organizers before submitting your abstract. We also ask that you do your best to make it to as many of these as possible if you are able to attend the meeting in Atlantic City.

Tom Lang

AFS Fish Habitat Section Sponsored Symposium for 2018 Annual AFS Meeting in Atlantic City

Advances in Habitat Science to support Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management Framework
Ecosystem-based fishery management (EBFM) has evolved to become a cornerstone to managing the nation’s marine fisheries and habitats sustainably. Ecosystem-based fishery management complements and builds off-of traditional single species fishery management. Our ability to effectively implement EBFM and make sound decisions depends on access to reliable, accurate, and actionable ecological, social, and economic information, tools, approaches, and models. NOAA Fisheries is in the process of implementing ecosystem approaches to management based on Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) Policy[1] and Roadmap[2] adopted in 2016. The agency is on track to complete regional EBFM implementation plans in 2018. Moving towards a holistic management approach requires sound scientific information with an emphasis on improving our understanding of environmental processes and stressors. The identification of habitats that are essential for sustaining living marine resources is an essential component. This symposium session will focus on research efforts, available information, and new methodology and tools that will enable decision-makers to gain a greater understanding of species-habitat relationships, habitat vulnerability, habitat conditions, and management considerations.
Organizer: Tony Marshak

Advances in Understanding Landscape Influences on Freshwater Habitats and Biological Assemblages
In 2006, AFS published a compelling volume on the landscape approach for conducting stream ecological research and its management applications (Landscape Influences on Stream Habitats and Biological Assemblages, AFS Symposium 48). The work presented papers on theoretical advances and applications for this theory, and it identified challenges that should be addressed to more effectively apply the landscape approach including: 1) the need for consistent methodologies to identify stream networks, 2) richer investigations to understand anthropogenic land use effects on freshwater habitats and organisms, 3) explicit characterization of multi-scale influences on freshwaters, and 4) importance of additional and more accurate landscape-scale datasets. Since 2006, many of those challenges have been addressed, and our understanding of landscape influences on freshwaters has advanced accordingly. This symposium will highlight these accomplishments. Presentations will describe multi-scale influences of landscape factors on aquatic habitats and biotic assemblages, novel analytical techniques for addressing hierarchical relationships in factors, and the usefulness of landscape-scale studies to manage and conserve freshwaters from current and future threats. Our symposium will include presentations describing the landscape approach for understanding influences on aquatic ecosystems in North America and globally, and symposium participants will be encouraged to submit papers to a new AFS volume to be published in 2019.
Organizers: Dana M. Infante, Robert Hughes and Lizhu Wang

Advancing Environmental Flows: Novel Findings, Challenges to Conventional Thinking, and Embracing Uncertainty
The scientific community widely recognizes that environmental flows are necessary to maintain or improve ecosystem function and its associated habitat complexity among regulated rivers. The science of environmental flows is intended to balance the multidimensional nature of shared water resources in a human-dominated world. As population growth continues, water is likely to become limited by increasing demand coupled with decreasing reliability due to climate change. As such, environmental flow science will be challenged to ensure flows sustain aquatic ecosystems within highly altered landscapes. In part, this is due to the global extent of hydrologic alteration that has moved environmental flow science from a focus on singular reaches toward more holistic frameworks at a watershed or regional scale. The right approach for determining necessary flows is governed by a tradeoff of spatial resolution, complexity, cost, and underlying ecological circumstances. Applications of many of these approaches have increased and advancements have been made in classification of hydrological regimes, development of flow-ecology relationships, identifying meaningful flow and ecological metrics, and understanding the ecological outcomes of particular flow regime alterations or prescriptions. Alongside other scientific advancements, we have started to answer more complex questions about aquatic and fisheries habitat to better examine altered-flow solutions while improving our interpretation of underlying sampling data and incorporating water-quality and social science into our decision making. In addition, we recognize the value of connected lotic and lentic ecosystems and are working to identify management options that support aquatic assemblages within these connected landscapes. Therefore, the objectives of this symposium are to bring together scientists and managers that are advancing how we think about and apply environmental flow techniques, examine novel findings that challenge conventional thinking, identify underlying uncertainties in the decision process, and identify opportunities to improve the implementation of environmental flows to meet anthropogenic and ecological needs.
Chair: Shannon Brewer
Organizers: Michael Porter, Kimberly Dibble, Elise Irwin and Jim Burroughs

Celebrating the lifelong achievements of Kenneth W. Able, director of the Rutgers University Marine Field Station since 1987
Dr. Kenneth W. Able has been a faculty member at Rutgers University for 40 years and the Director of the Marine Field Station for over 30. His contributions to estuarine and marine ecology are ubiquitous. They include 252 publications, 23 published abstracts, 3 books, and 51 technical reports. He has received 163 grants, exceeding $20 million. Over the course of his career, he has advised 85 undergraduate and 41 graduate students and mentored 23 postdoctoral researchers. Dr. Able has been honored with multiple awards, such as the Nancy Foster Habitat Conservation Award (2014), the Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Research Excellence Award (2014), and the Oscar E. Sette Outstanding Marine Fishery Biology Award, American Fisheries Society (Marine Fisheries Section, 2004).The purpose of this special symposium is to celebrate Dr. Able’s career. Presentations in this symposium will emphasize his research interests in habitat interactions; the impacts of fisheries, urbanizing estuaries, and climate change on fishes; restoration ecology; and long-term ecological monitoring. Synthesis talks will include results from Dr. Able’s studies, and legacy talks will include studies that have built upon his findings.
Organizers: Paola Lopez-Duarte and Thomas M. Grothues

Challenges in Protecting Fish and Shellfish at Cooling Water Intakes: Case Studies and Experiences Complying with the 2014 Clean Water Act 316(b) Rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final Rule implementing § 316(b) of the Clean Water Act on August 15, 2014. This regulatory action targets reduction in mortality associated with the impingement and entrainment of fish and shellfish at cooling water intakes. The challenge of complying with and implementing the Rule has begun for over 1,000 affected facilities (e.g., power plants, pulp and paper mills, iron mills, chemical plants, oil & gas facilities) throughout the U.S. and their regulatory agencies. This symposium will bring together experts in the fields of biology, engineering, facility intake screening operation, resource economics and regulations to share case studies and first-hand experiences navigating the complexities of compliance under the new 316(b) Rule and challenges associated with its interpretation and implementation.
This 2-day symposium will focus on recent case studies and experiences since the 2014 Rule became effective, including:
• Regulated and regulatory perspectives on compliance challenges and limitations;
• Impingement and Entrainment (“Take”) of Threatened and Endangered species;
• Selecting technologies for protecting fish and shellfish at cooling water intakes – including traveling water screens, wedgewire screens, velocity caps, barrier nets, behavioral systems, closed-cycle cooling systems, fish return systems and other methods for reducing, excluding or collecting and returning fish and shellfish to source waterbodies;
• Determining and optimizing the performance of fish protection technologies;
• Site-specific challenges related to biology, engineering, and economic analysis to determine technology feasibility and the costs and benefits for compliance;
• Use of historical or similar facility comparisons biological data to reduce or eliminate new studies (i.e. biological characterization or technology optimization studies); and,
• Experiences with peer review, final compliance, site-specific permit conditions, and future requirements.
Chairs: Jonathan Black, Ronald Heun and Daniel Giza
Organizers: Amy Hetherington, Christopher W.D. Gurshin, Brad Foss and Jennifer Mathia

Challenges, Opportunities and Successes in Coastal Bivalve Management for Habitat Restoration, Fishery Enhancement, and Ecosystem Service Delivery
This symposium will communicate the Challenges of bivalve fishery enhancement and habitat restoration; seek discussion of and consensus on the use of bivalve enhancement techniques to meet fishery and habitat needs; and deliver reports on successful bivalve enhancement projects. An emphasis will be placed on bivalve stock or population enhancement projects and programs that feature a habitat restoration component, or are part of a larger ecosystem restoration program where bivalve enhancement leads to both successful fishery outcomes and improved or expended ecosystem services. Discussions of the challenges in delivering such broad based enhancement successes will be used to uncover opportunities for additional work. The symposium seeks the best case studies from all over North America in a variety of habitats and fisheries and from a variety of species.
Organizer: Philip Hoffman and April Croxton

Climate impacts on fish and fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic
Since the year 1900, ocean temperature in the Northwest Atlantic has warmed 3-4 times faster than the global ocean. The enhanced warming of the Northwest Atlantic as been linked to a slowdown in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation caused by anthropogenic climate change. In recent decades, ocean warming rates in the Northwest Atlantic continue to be enhanced resulting in changes in the distribution of living marine resources and fisheries. This session invites presentations that explore the impacts of climate change on fish and fisheries of the rapidly changing Northwest Atlantic ecosystems. Research can include observed or projected impacts that are not limited to ocean warming as a variable. Presentations that explore impacts beyond temperature are highly encouraged: these include ocean acidification, multispecies interactions, food web dynamics, and the human dimension (fisheries, economics, etc.).
Organizer: Vincent Saba

Ecological Consequences of Natural and Anthropogenic Disturbance
Natural and human-caused environmental disturbances result in varying degrees of short- and long-term consequences from headwaters to coastal ecosystems. Globally, extreme weather phenomena and an increase in storm frequency and magnitude associated with climate change is an emerging trend. Concurrently, human activities and population continue to grow exponentially, rapidly exploiting natural resources. Hurricanes, fires, flooding, drought, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic activity, and other natural disturbances affect aquatic habitat and biodiversity in the short-term but may also contribute to the resiliency of these systems in the long-term. Anthropogenic environmental disturbances which result from human activities include oil and coal fly ash spills, accidental releases of sediments and toxics, or radioactive chemical releases. These types of disturbances impact ecosystem services differently from natural disasters. Organic, inorganic, and radioactive chemical spills expose aquatic communities to toxins via direct absorption through tissues or trophic bioaccumulation. Understanding the ecological consequences of natural and anthropogenic disturbances and identifying systems most vulnerable to acute environmental perturbations is an issue of utmost importance.
This symposium will focus on the impacts from natural stochastic disturbances and those as a result of human activities on fish communities within freshwater, estuarine, and marine ecosystems. The purpose of this symposium is to highlight the importance of 1) developing robust environmental baselines; 2) collecting and monitoring ecosystems with standardized procedures pre- and post-disturbance; 3) identifying resilient and vulnerable ecosystems; 4) forecasting the impacts to ecosystem services from a variety of disturbance types, and 5) identifying similar responses to a wide variety of disturbance events. The goals of this symposium are to present and discuss current ecosystem monitoring efforts before and after environmental disturbances. Participants will share important lessons learned from collecting baseline data, responsiveness to ecosystem disturbances, and benchmarks used to assess ecosystem recovery.
Organizer: Brandon Jensen

Emergent properties of aquatic, coastal, and marine ecosystems due to climate change
Emergent properties of ecosystems refer to community attributes that represent connections and interactions among species or assemblages. In a climate change context, this concept also includes novel biotic interactions and ecosystems that have no historical analog. The most recent literature often predicts that climate-induced changes in how species occur in space and time will result in trophic mismatches, asynchronies, and novel species interactions. Novel species assemblages in particular are expected to substantially alter ecosystem structure, function, and the provisioning of ecosystem services. Over the past few years, understanding of how trophic relationships may be affected by climate change have evolved considerably through observational, experimental, and modeling approaches. In general, the field has progressed from making simple and somewhat dire predictions of the potential impacts and the ecological sensitivity of species and systems, to more nuanced examinations of behavioral mechanisms, adaptations, and life history traits that allow for adaptive responses to changing environmental conditions. The primary objective of this session is to highlight case studies from aquatic, coastal, and marine systems that document, model, or project changes in trophic interactions, ecosystem structure and function, mismatches, and novel communities. This session will provide a unique cross-system perspective that spans freshwater and marine habitats on this emerging area of interest to the AFS community and an opportunity to synthesize recommendations on adaptive management strategies for novel communities.
Organizers: Michelle D. Staudinger, Abigail J. Lynch and Sarah K. Gaichas

Extreme Events and Inland Fish
Hardly a week goes by without some report of an extreme weather event. From hurricanes, to floods, ENSO related weather patterns, and droughts, these events are becoming increasingly recognized as direct and indirect effects of climate change with social, economic, and ecological consequences. For inland aquatic biodiversity and fisheries, the impacts can be significant. They may drastically affect recruitment processes and ecosystem dynamics, reduce habitat availability, or facilitate movement (e.g., droughts, floods). They may foster colonization or spread of invasive species and they may bolster native species well-adapted to strong seasonal or annual dynamics (e.g., hurricanes). The interactive effects of these disturbances with related drivers, such as social cohesion and market dynamics, make the impacts even more unpredictable. Understanding how aquatic ecosystems will respond to these disturbances will better prepare managers to adapt and ensure sustainable ecosystem services. This symposium assembles a series of case studies examining the impacts of extreme events on inland fish and fisheries and concludes with a panel discussion to explore the gaps in our understanding of the impacts of extreme events on inland fish, opportunities for improving resilience of inland fish in the face of these events, and potential adaptive management responses.
Organizers: Abigail J. Lynch, Emily Argo, Ian G. Cowx, Vittoria Elliott, Yu-Chun Kao, Bonnie Myers and Sui Chian Phang

Fisheries Research and Long-term Data Collection in Support of Coastal Management at National Estuarine Research Reserves
Fisheries investigations at National Estuarine Research Reserves are informed by long-term sampling, sensing and observing programs. This session will illustrate the value of reference sites or protected areas to conduct research on fish distribution, habitat use and migratory patterns in response to environmental change. Education and outreach efforts associated with these studies will also be highlighted. Members and participants will benefit from a detailed overview of the utility of protected area sites to advance management of fisheries and coastal ecosystems.
Organizer: Mike De Luca

Habitat Enhancement for Conservation and Management in Marine and Freshwater Environments: Effects and Mechanisms of Response
Use of natural and man-made structures to enhance habitat with the goal of improving fisheries is a method that is centuries old and continues to be widely employed today. Despite years of application, there remains uncertainty regarding the mechanisms responsible for the effects of habitat additions and the environmental conditions affecting their efficacy. A critical question is whether local numeric increases in fish result from the aggregation of mobile organisms or from enhanced production. Because the management implications of these two mechanisms are so different, discerning between the effects of aggregations versus enhanced production continues to be a crucial missing piece of information when assessing the potential benefits of enhancing habitat with natural and artificial structures. This symposium is focused on research and management projects in both freshwater and marine environments that assess the effects of increasing habitat structure, environmental conditions and deployment features influencing the strength and direction of habitat addition impacts, as well as the importance of aggregation versus production. Particular emphasis will be on the effects of habitats on food web structure, animal behavior, population and community dynamics, ecosystem processes, and fishery exploitation. By incorporating both freshwater and marine applications, this session will begin a new synthesis of general patterns and the current state of knowledge regarding our understanding of how and when adding habitat structure change the availability of aquatic resources.
Organizers: Thomas Detmer, Joseph Parkos, Anthony Porreca, Scott F. Collins and David H. Wahl

Impacts of Hypoxia on Fishes and Food Webs in Freshwater, Coastal and Oceanic Ecosystems: A Global Perspective
Hypoxia (dissolved oxygen ≤ 2 mg L-1) is a widespread and expanding stressor across the world’s lakes, coasts and open-ocean ecosystems. Systems with high nutrient loading, high productivity and stratifications are particularly vulnerable to hypoxia. Effects of hypoxia on fishes can occur through direct (e.g. fish kills, changes in spatial distribution, vital rates such as growth and consumption) or indirect (e.g. changes in spatial overlap of predator and prey, increased susceptibility to other stressors). Geographic, seasonal and inter-annual difference in temperature can dramatically impact the severity of hypoxia even at similar oxygen concentrations. Through trophic interactions, hypoxic stress on one functional group can have positive or negative effects on other functional groups in a food web. How well can we predict/forecast/assess how hypoxia-driven changes in habitat conditions will ultimately affect fish populations? Can we move beyond species-specific characterization to more unifying approaches or theory? This symposium will seek papers from a wide range of aquatic ecosystems across the globe such as lakes, estuaries, coastal oceans, and coral reefs as a basis for comparison on how well we understand the impacts of hypoxia in time and space on fishes and food webs.
Chairs/Organizers: Stephen Brandt and Kim de Mutsert

Life in the Big City: Understanding Urbanization Impacts on Estuarine Fishes and Shellfish
Estuaries provide critical habitat for an assortment of fish species that rely on them during some, or all of, their life history. Humans also depend on estuaries in a number of ways, as they provide a variety of economic, cultural, and ecological services. Nearly 50% of the population of the U.S. lives in coastal counties, most of that falling within estuarine watersheds. These watersheds are undergoing different rates of urbanization and the change from “natural” systems to those dominated by human development can impose significant stressors on estuaries. The purpose of this symposium is to explore the impacts of urbanization on estuarine fishes and shellfish. Many human activities have adverse consequences for estuarine organisms (e.g., dredging, shoreline hardening, flow manipulation, pollution, and introduced species to name a few) so topics of interest are diverse. We invite presentations from researchers working in estuaries across the country that examine both direct and more indirect impacts of urbanization on fishes and shellfish.
Organizers: James Vasslides and Catherine Johnston

Meeting NOAA's Needs: Collaborative Research to Conserve Living Marine Resources, Habitats, and Ecosystems
One of NOAA’s missions is to conserve and manage living marine resources, and protect and restore healthy ecosystems. The Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center was established to support this mission by conducting collaborative research in four areas relevant to NOAA: 1) Stock Assessment: help assess and sustain marine animal and plant populations, exploited and protected species, marine ecosystems and habitats, and the natural and human communities associated with them; 2) Climate and Ecosystems: Understand and predict effects of environmental change on marine ecosystems, coastal communities, and economies; 3) Healthy Habitats: Understand the relationships between habitats and healthy marine populations, and human impacts on them; and 4) Safe Seafood: Ensure sustainable, safe, and secure seafood, including aquaculture technology, nutrition, and pathology. This symposium will highlight research conducted to support NOAA’s mission in these four areas, with the goals of conserving living marine resources, habitats, ecosystems, and the human communities that depend on them.
Organizer: Bradley Stevens

Recovering America's Wildlife Act, The Grand Vision and Funding for Conservation
Fish and wildlife face a myriad of threats in the United States including loss of habitat, degradation of habitat, pollution, climate change, invasive species, and disease. Although Pittman-Robertson, Dingell-Johnson, and Wallop-Breaux have provided unparalleled funding for wildlife and sportfish restoration and have garnered many conservation successes, State Wildlife Action Plans collectively have identified nearly 12,000 species nationwide that are in need of conservation attention and action. These species of greatest conservation need are at-risk of moving onto the threatened and endangered species lists. The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources (a nonpartisan panel of 26 national leaders representing conservation organizations, the energy industry, outdoor recreation retailers, sportsmen’s group, and governmental agencies) was organized to develop recommendations for securing dedicated funding that would fully provide for our nation’s fish and wildlife species. The panel developed a recommendation that would eventually become HR4647 the bipartisan “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act” sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.). If passed this Act would dedicate $1.3 billion annually in existing revenues from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters to the currently unfunded Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Account. These funds would then be distributed to the state natural resource agencies to implement State Wildlife Action Plans which are designed to conserve at-risk species and keep them off of the threatened and endangered list. This symposium will provide a detailed examination of HR4647 and its current status, include reviews of multiple State Wildlife Action Plans and their important activities that would be funded through this Act, review of AFS and our partner’s efforts to support the Act, and ways that AFS members, Sections, and Chapters can help to support this visionary bill that could change the future of fish and wildlife indefinitely.
Chairs/Organizers: Tom Lang and Drue Winters

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Canadian scientists are keeping a close eye on legislation for fish habitat protection. Follow along in this week's blog: ...

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Such a tremendous movement for fish habitat and we're so honored that our Fish Habitat Section President gets to represent all of the members of the American Fisheries Society on the National Fish Habitat Partnership Board! We are working for the fish and their habitat, the people, and on your behalf! ...

Our story started in 2006. This video reflects on 10 years of the National Fish Habitat Partnership and our outlook for the future! Special thanks to Bass Pro Shops for helping us tell our story! #FishHabitat

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