Science-Based Conservation

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Published on: Aug. 15, 2012

track the health and changes of Missouri’s fisheries,” says Hrabik. “Some examples include improved trawling and electrofishing methods, the use of reward tags and surgically implanted data storage tags in telemetry studies, and collaborating with other state and national fisheries monitoring efforts. These techniques allow us to study fish movements, describe patterns in migratory behavior, and predict spawning success with many species, including sturgeons, paddlefish, catfish, and many other recreationally and commercially important fish.”

The Department’s Resource Assessment and Monitoring Program (RAM) monitors long-term trends in the health of Missouri’s warm-water, wadeable streams. This database helps direct conservation work to where it is needed most. Sampling sites are chosen at random from 17,507 miles of permanently flowing, but wadeable,Missouri streams.

“The program’s focus is on the living organisms in streams because their well-being is the ultimate goal of our stream conservation efforts,” says Matt Combes, Department resource scientist and RAM coordinator. “Fish and macroinvertebrates are affected differently by water quality and disturbed habitat, so it is important to sample a variety of organisms.”

One of the state’s longest, continuous monitoring programs is the Long Term Resource Monitoring Program for the Mississippi River. Staff at the Big Rivers and Wetlands Field Station in Jackson monitor a 50-mile stretch of the Mississippi River and provide managers, scientists and decision-makers with information on the long-term changes in fish communities, water quality, riverbank vegetation and land use.

To further monitor and improve fish, forest and wildlife management, MDC operates five field stations around the state, in Kirksville, Clinton, West Plains, Chillicothe and Jackson. Each field station has statewide responsibility for a designated ecological system: agricultural, grasslands, forests, and large rivers and wetlands along the Missouri, and Mississippi rivers, respectively.

“Field stations advance resource management by investigating questions surrounding fish, forest and wildlife management,” says Rochelle Renken, MDC resource science field chief. “At the field stations, researchers and managers work together to develop and evaluate solutions to management challenges. Examples of such collaborative work are evaluations of prairie chicken translocations, the effects of prescribed burning on the wood-product value of trees, and wildlife use of federally funded conservation practices in agricultural landscapes.”

Balancing The Needs Of People And Wildlife

Science-based conservation balances the needs of people and wildlife. How Missourians use and interact with the state’s fish, forests and wildlife is taken into account when making management decisions.

“Citizen input and involvement are critical to

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