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Comparing Commonly Used Aquatic Habitat Modeling Methods for Native Fish

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Created: Jul 25, 2023 at 12:32 a.m.
Last updated: May 10, 2024 at 10:55 p.m.
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Accurate estimates of aquatic species distribution and habitat extent are critical to effectively manage ecological objectives. Many types of habitat models exist, which meet different objectives and have disparate outputs. However, no standard methods compare predictive accuracy of different habitat model types. We compared three aquatic habitat models, which predicted native Bonneville Cutthroat Trout distribution in the Bear River Watershed (USA) at a monthly timestep. Models included an existing hydraulic-habitat model, an existing habitat threshold model, and a geospatial model developed for this study. Validation of environmental predictors used in all models reflected satisfactory to poor fit—no observed conditions were well represented by model estimates—a function of either outdated, incorrect, or over-generalized input data. Validation of habitat suitability predictions using Bonneville Cutthroat Trout presence data showed the habitat threshold model accurately classified 100% of fish presence observations in suitable habitat in all modeled months, though model performance was sensitive to performance criteria selection which favored models with greater precision. Overall, habitat predictions from the simple, generalizable habitat threshold model are most useful for incorporating ecological objectives into water management models, though additional information from the more precise geospatial method may be useful for maximizing native fish conservation efforts.

Subject Keywords



Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
Place/Area Name:
Bear River Watershed
North Latitude
East Longitude
South Latitude
West Longitude



Funding Agencies

This resource was created using funding from the following sources:
Agency Name Award Title Award Number
National Science Foundation CAREER: Robust aquatic habitat representation for water resources decision-making Award # 1653452

How to Cite

Turney, E., S. Null (2024). Comparing Commonly Used Aquatic Habitat Modeling Methods for Native Fish, HydroShare,

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.


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