Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Department name when degree awarded

Watershed Science and the Ecology Center

Committee Chair(s)

Edward Hammill


Edward Hammill


Joseph Wheaton


Barty Warren-Kretzschmar


The expansion and industrialization of humanity has caused many unforeseen consequences to the natural world. Due to the importance of freshwater for people, rivers have been particularly altered to meet human needs, often at the expense of the natural world. Supplying water for farms, industries, and cities has reshaped the natural state of rivers by altering river paths, chemistry, and species compositions. These changes have harmed many species that prospered before widespread human alterations, including the native trout and salmon of western North America. As human populations continue to grow, new threats will surface for rivers, and the trout and salmon that call rivers home. As a result, many scientists have considered how to assess and counter-act threats to trout and salmon. Often, efforts focus around rehabilitating stretches of river, but do not consider large-scale watershed conditions, which may be responsible for chronic stream degradation. Tools have been developed to guide decision making for coordinating conservation efforts that consider the multitude of risks facing trout and salmon. In this thesis I implemented these tools to help managers and decision makers understand how risks affect their conservation efforts. Two examples are provided, with the first considering development and resource extraction risks to Pacific salmon spawning habitat in Alaska. The second example considers climate, development, and competition risks for cutthroat trout, throughout Utah. Results from both examples clarify that managers who consider risks while conducting conservation yield greater results than managers who attempt to avoid risks. The findings here intend to inform future conservation effort for trout and salmon, and also clarify the importance of risk management in conservation.