Restoring flow in the Beebe River: implications for eastern brook trout
eastern brook trout , Salvelinus fontinalis , Beebe River , habitat degradation , monitoring , culvert removal , Student Showcase of Excellence 2017
Wild populations of Eastern Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) have been declining across their historic range. The Beebe River watershed (Campton and Sandwich, NH) possesses an intact, robust population of wild Brook trout. Recent private acquisition of the Beebe River uplands (5,435 acres) by The Conservation Fund includes the creation of a sustainable management plan focusing on preserving this unique population. During 2016, Plymouth State University and NH Fish and Game Department collected demographic, genetic, and movement data to understand the impacts of habitat degradation and fragmentation caused by impassible, human-made barriers. In 2017, five undersized road crossings over headwater tributaries draining into the Beebe River will be replaced with bridges. Monitoring will continue during (2017) and after (2018) culvert replacement to measure the impacts of increased connectivity. We predict that culvert removal will increase fish movement between and within tributaries, providing enhanced access to thermal refuge and spawning habitat, ultimately resulting in increased genetic variation and a decrease in negative impacts of inbreeding as a result of isolation. This project is a unique opportunity to document and track restored habitat connectivity on the genetic structure, demographics, and movement patterns of a wild Brook trout population in northern New England.