Remote sensing framework reveals riverscape connectivity fragmentation and fish passability in a forested landscape

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University of New Brunswick


Fragmentation of stream networks by anthropogenic structures such as road culverts can affect the health of a catchment by negatively affecting the ecosystem's biota, their movements, abundances, and species richness. The challenge for resource managers is the prohibitive costs of locating, evaluating, and remediating problem structures at landscape-scales. There is a need for a framework to perform a desktop, landscape-scale evaluation and prioritization process using existing data that allows managers to make cost and ecologically effective decisions. I present a framework using publicly available LiDAR and orthophotography to locate and identify road crossings and evaluate fragmentation and passability for various fish species at the landscape-scale. My approach provides a valuable and cost-effective means of identifying potential stream crossing issues for multiple management objectives, e.g., fish passage, and thus the approach is an important step in the development of prioritization tools for restoration decisions by resource managers.