Impacts of Natural Gas Development on the Fisheries Communities of the Wyoming Range

Wyoming has experienced a significant increase in energy development over the last two decades.  The eastern front of the Wyoming Range has been impacted by this increase.  Oil and gas extraction is currently occurring throughout the southern extent of this region, and proposed expansion to the northern portion of the Wyoming Range threatens to undermine the area’s ecological integrity and biodiversity.  In the summer months of 2012 and 2013, we will assess the current and future impacts of energy development on the fishes of the Wyoming Range.

We hypothesize that the structure of fish assemblages relates to habitat conditions which may be altered by drilling practices and associated infrastructure.  Ecological disturbances include but are not limited to: increased road densities and vehicle traffic; fragmentation of terrestrial and aquatic habitats; and pollution of air, water and soil.  Large information gaps exist regarding the effects of these disturbances on aquatic ecosystems.  By comparing fish assemblages, riparian condition, sedimentation rates, and water quality and quantity between active energy development sites and “reference” sites we will evaluate the impacts of resource extraction on the fish communities of the Wyoming Range.  “Reference” sites will be chosen to intentionally include proposed drilling areas. This will benefit our study in two ways; first, it will allow us to forecast impacts related to oil and gas development in the future, and it will provide an excellent baseline data set for comparison post-drilling.  Our overall goal is to document current ecological impacts that are affecting fish assemblages as well as predict how future development will impact presently undisturbed areas.

Gallery

Reports & Publications

Posters

Girard, C.G., Walters, A.W. 2012. The current and future impacts of energy development on the fishes of the Wyoming Range.  Western Division American Fisheries Society Annual Conference, Jackson, WY.

Girard, C.G., Walters, A.W. 2012. The current and future impacts of energy development on the fishes of the Wyoming Range.  Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative Conference, Rock Springs, WY.

Contact

Carlin Girard, MS Student
Wyoming Cooperative & Wildlife Research Unit
Dept. 3166, 1000 E. University Avenue
Laramie, WY 82070
[email protected]
cell: (413) 441-2796

Annika Walters, Assistant Unit Leader Fisheries / Assistant Professor
Wyoming Cooperative & Wildlife Research Unit
Dept. 3166, 1000 E. University Avenue
Laramie, WY 82070
[email protected]
office: (307) 766 5473

Project Lead

Carlin Girard is researching natural gas development effects for native fish in the Wyoming Range.

Funding & Partners

  • Wyoming Lanscape Conservation Initiative
  • USGS
  • Wyoming Game and Fish Department