Namekagon River Fish Habitat

The Namekagon River in Wisconsin is part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, established by the U.S. Congress in 1968 under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.  We examined the environmental history of the Namekagon River to aid in planning river restoration and monitoring.  A primary focus for managing and restoring the river is recovery of native brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis).  We expect our results to inform future management plans for river restoration.  This project has been supported by the National Park Service, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Notre Dame Center for Aquatic Conservation. Our work on the Namekagon River was expanded in 2012 to survey fish populations in tributaries and monitor water temperature thanks to a 2012 NPS George Melendez Wright Climate Change Fellowship! Temperature monitoring continues with loggers still deployed in 2021. 

Evans, N.T., P.D. Shirey, J.G. Wieringa, A.R. Mahon, and G.A. Lamberti. 2017. Comparative Cost and Effort of Fish Distribution Detection via Environmental DNA Analysis and Electrofishing. Fisheries 42(2): 90-99.

Long-term monitoring of an urban stream

We present ecological management lessons learned from 17 years of monitoring the fish community response to the channel relocation and reach-level restoration of Juday Creek, a 3rd-order tributary of the St. Joseph River in Indiana, USA. The project was designed to increase habitat complexity, reverse the effects of accumulated fine sediment (< 2 mm diameter), and mitigate for the impacts of a new golf course development. Our long-term monitoring effort revealed that habitat conditions have promoted the resurgence of native fish species. Since restoration, the fish assemblage has shifted from non-native Salmonidae (brown trout, rainbow trout) to native Centrarchidae (rock bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass). In addition, native, non-game species have remained stable or have increased in population abundance (e.g., Johnny darter, mottled sculpin). 

Shirey, P.D., M.A. Brueseke, J.B. Kenny, and G.A. Lamberti. 2016. Long-term fish community response to a reach-scale stream restoration. Ecology and Society 21(3): 11. Open Access

Drainage law and fish habitat

The county drainage board removed large wood from our monitored stream reaches in Juday Creek in 2011. This was an area that included wood and wooded riparian buffers as habitat features in the restoration project. Such legal activities represent an important environmental management problem that exists under drainage laws which apply to streams over a widespread geographic region of North America. Recent litigation in Wisconsin suggests that if state legislatures fail to update these antiquated drainage laws, the courts may act in favor of science-based management of drains (Donald Isherwood v. Portage County Drainage District 2019). The laws that govern agricultural drainage warrant careful consideration if streams within drainage districts are to be managed to improve ecological function.

Shirey, P.D., J.B. Kenny, M.A. Brueseke, and G.A. Lamberti. 2020. Stream habitat provided by large wood at risk under drainage law. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 45:1318-1324.  

The legal and illegal trade in endangered plant species

The commercial trade of propagated listed plants is a common but controversial ex situ conservation approach for rare plant species. We investigated the Internet trade of plants protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act to determine their availability for interstate (i.e., regulated) commerce. We identified 49 listed plant species that were available via the Internet, with less than 10% of vendors having obtained the required federal permit. The lack of permits among vendors suggests that sellers are unaware or ignore regulations. Illegal trade undermines both the permitting process and conservation efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that commercial propagation aids the long‐term survival of listed species.

Shirey, P.D., B.N. Kunycky, D.T. Chaloner, M.A. Brueseke, and G.A. Lamberti. 2013. Commercial trade of federally listed threatened and endangered plants in the United States. Conservation Letters 6(5): 300-316. Open Access: