Modeling habitat suitability and management options for maintaining round whitefish (Prosopium cylindraceum) in Adirondack ponds.
Habitat loss, acid precipitation, and non-native species have drastically reduced the number of Adirondack waterbodies occupied by round whitefish (Prosopium cylindraceum). The goal of this study was to (1) increase the probability of reintroduction success by modeling the suitability of ponds for reintroduction and (2) better understand the effects of different rates of pond reclamation. We created a species distribution model that identified 70 waterbodies that were physically similar to occupied ponds. The most influential variables for describing round whitefish habitat included trophic, temperature, and alkalinity classes; waterbody maximum depth; maximum air temperature; and surrounding soil texture and impervious surface. Next, we simulated population dynamics under a variety of treatment scenarios and compared the probability of complete extirpation using a modified Markov model. Under almost all management strategies and under pressure from non-native competitors such as those observed in the past 30 years, the number of occupied ponds will decline over the next 100 years. Restoring one pond every 3 years, however, would result in a 99% chance of round whitefish persistence after 100 years.