Streamlined Cumulative Effect Modelling Framework for Species at Risk (SAR)

Project Details

Athabasca River; W 53° 31′ 7.0896″; N 117° 23′ 51.72″
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of British Columbia; BC Ministry of the Environment
2021 – Present
Team Member(s):
Matthew Bayly, Marc Porter, Alexandra Tekatch, Brian Ma, Alejandra Urcelay, Julian Heavyside
Service Area(s):
Cumulative Effects Assessment
Services Employed:
Decision-Support Systems, Ecological Modelling, GIS Analysis, and Risk and Vulnerability Assessment

The Problem We Aimed to Solve

Conducting a population-based cumulative effects analysis for species at risk (SAR) can be challenging and time-consuming due to data availability limitations. The Joe Model / CEM-PRA (Cumulative Effects Model for Priority of Recovery Actions) aims to simplify this process by providing a flexible framework for assessing the effects of different scenarios, stressors, and focal species for a given area of interest. The CEM-PRA tool includes a built-in population modeling framework, which enables users to link key stressors across the landscape to population vital rates for a particular species. This tool is particularly useful for species with limited data availability, as it offers a flexible approach, and recommends relevant research and recovery actions for any number of geographical units that will most benefit the target SAR.

How We Helped

ESSA worked with project partners and funders – Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the University of British Columbia, the Government of British Columbia, Alberta Environment and Parks, and Simon Fraser University – to design a flexible modelling framework that allows users to upload their own spatial data, habitat stressor values, and stressor-response functions for any region and focal species. The tool, which can be accessed below, is suitable for use anywhere in Canada where suitable input data are available. The application includes a user interface for running cumulative effect scenarios, predicting future simulated populations, scrutinizing stressor-response functions, and presenting results in tabular and spatial formats. This tool provides an opportunity for repeatability, flexibility, and simplicity in population-based cumulative effects analysis for any species.

Our Project’s Impacts

Our framework has been applied to Athabasca River habitat in Alberta to assess the status and response of Athabasca River Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) alongside a series of stressor-response curves. The tool has also been parameterized and applied over the Thompson-Nicola region (BC) to evaluate cumulative effects for Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), Coho salmon (O. kisutch), and steelhead salmon (O. mykiss). ESSA would be happy to work with you to customize the framework for your project needs. You can also access the open-source code for the project below.