Freshwater connectivity conservation in Quebec's Yamaska watershed
Alex Arkilanian is a masters student in the Gonzalez lab writing his thesis on aquatic connectivity.With the support of the MELCC, MFFP, and MTQ Alex is performing a connectivity assessment for the white sucker (Catostomus commmersoni) in the rivers of the Yamaska watershed. Using a modified network connectivity metric, Alex is using the habitat requirements of this generalist representative species to understand its potential functional connectivity for multiple life stages given existing anthropogenic and natural barriers such as dams, culverts, and waterfalls. The overarching goal of this assessment is to determine important sites for conservation of this species considering both connectivity and quality of important adult and spawning habitats. As a natural extension this assessment will also produce a prioritization of anthropogenic barriers in the region which affect white sucker connectivity the most severely. This assessment will lay groundwork for an expanded connectivity assessment for the larger region of the St. Lawrence Lowlands and for an expanded portfolio of important fish species. Aquatic connectivity has been underappreciated in freshwater conservation and this collaboration with provincial ministries represents an important step into the direction of more directly considering river connectivity in freshwater fish conservation.
Funding source: MELCC, MFFP and MTQ