Evaluate and Learn

A critical step in an adaptive management approach is to evaluate and learn how well the restoration action is working.  Similar to the restore step, this evaluation happens at the spatial unit level.

A sunrise departure: RV KIYI leaves Grand Marais, MI to start the day’s bottom trawls on Lake Superior. Credit: Amanda Ackiss.

Monitor Populations

To evaluate restoration efforts, it is crucial to monitor how well the fishes are responding by estimating their abundance as well as key vital rates including  growth, survival, and reproduction.  This monitoring can take advantage of existing surveys that capture coregonines, and can be aided by new survey designs that sample multiple life stages of fish.  Different restoration efforts may have different impacts on eggs, larvae, juveniles, or spawning adults.

Monitor Habitat

It is also important to monitor any habitat that is being improved or created.  Is the new or improved spawning habitat being used?  Is the refuge effective?  Key aspects of fish habitat can be assessed to evaluate how they affect restoration. These aspects include:

Substrate type

Availability of interstitial spaces

Oxygen level

Connectivity to other habitat

A spawning migration of ciscoes (C. artedi) in the Yellowknife River, Great Slave Lake, NT during October. Credit: Paul Vecsei.

Synthesize and Adjust

Evaluation of populations and habitat happen at the spatial unit level, but it is often necessary to aggregate or synthesize data across spatial units given that management jurisdictions may not perfectly align with spatial units of restoration.  After these responses are aggregated across multiple scales, the evaluation results are reported back to fishery managers to help them determine whether restoration priorities need to be redefined, or if restoration strategies need to be adjusted.