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Making decisions in complex landscapes: headwater stream management across multiple agencies

Participants at workshop exploring collaborative management in the Deerfield watershed


January 2014 - May 2016


There is growing evidence that headwater stream ecosystems are especially vulnerable to changing climate and land use, but their conservation is challenged by the need to address the threats at a landscape scale, often through coordination with multiple management agencies and landowners. This project seeks to fill a gap, providing an example of cooperative landscape decision-making to address the conservation of headwater stream ecosystems in the face of climate change.

We will facilitate a structured decision making (SDM) process with agencies that have joint management authority in a shared landscape, to frame their decision context. In each of the watersheds (Potomac River Watershed, Merrimack River Watershed), we will work with management partners (USFWS, NPS, USFS) in a framework that mimics an LCC, but at a smaller scale. The SDM process will involve:
(a) preliminary one-on-one conversations with the management agencies to begin to understand their perspectives;
(b) a facilitated workshop with the joint management agencies in a watershed (FWS, NPS, USFS) to frame the decision context;
(c) development of decision support tools, such as predictive models of species response to management, based on the context identified;
(d) subsequent meetings and communication to evaluate the relevance of the support tools; and
(e) documentation and training so the managers know how to use the products of this research for decision implementation.

The decision-framing itself, as well as the decision-support tools (like predictive models) are important products that will be directly relevant and usable by management agencies. In addition, we will document the findings and process in several publications.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Katz, R., E. Grant, M. Runge, B. Connery, M. Crockett, E. Herland, S. Johnson, D. Kirk, J. Wofford, R. Bennett, K. Nislow, M. Norris, D. Hocking, B. Letcher, A. Roy. 2014. Making decisions in complex landscapes: Headwater stream management across multiple federal agencies. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Conservation Training Center, Structured Decision Making Workshop Report. Download  |  Publisher Website | 


  • Grant, E.H.C., M. Runge, R. Katz, B.H. Letcher, and A.H. Roy. 2014. A structured decision framework to identify shared opportunities for decision making among multiple resource management agencies. Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, 10-14 August 2014, Sacramento, CA
  • Katz, R.A., E.H. Campbell Grant, A.H. Roy, B.H. Letcher, and M.C Runge. 2015. Evaluating collaborative landscape conservation for headwater stream ecosystems in two northeastern US watersheds. 71st Annual Northeast Fish and Wildlife Conference, 19-21 April 2015.
  • Katz, R.A., E.H. Campbell Grant, M.C. Runge, D. Hocking, B.H. Letcher, and A.H. Roy. 2015. Not all scientific uncertainties are created equal for landscape scale headwater stream management. Annual Meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science, 17-21 May 2015, Milwaukee, WI.

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 142

Post Docs: 53

University Staff: 240

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 701

Scientific Publications: 1936

Presentations: 4260



  • Allison RoyPrincipal Investigator
  • Evan H Campbell GrantNon-PI Collaborator
  • Benjamin H LetcherCo-Principal Investigator
  • Michael C RungeNon-PI Collaborator
  • Paul SievertCo-Principal Investigator
  • Rachel KatzStaff
  • Daniel HockingNon-PI Collaborator

Funding Agencies

  • USGS Northeast Climate Science Center


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey