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Environmental Sciences Division


Henriette I. Jager

Current Projects (last updated 3/9/2014)

Model-Guided Conservation Planning for the White Sturgeon in the Middle Snake River

This new effort will use our white sturgeon PVA model, an individual-based populatin genetic model. The goal of the research is to compare the genetic and demographic risks of two alternatives: operating a conservation hatchery and 'repatriating' juveniles after capturing them as larvae and rearing in a hatchery. A significant challenge is the poor water quality in Brownlee Reservoir. This research is funded by Idaho Power Company.

Secure Water Act Section 9505-2

This sub-task will assess indirect environmental influences mediating the effects of future climate on energy value at federal hydropower projects. Indirect environmental effects include flow requirements for fish passage and habitat, including water quality (thermal criteria, reservoir hypoxia). This research is funded by DOE Office of Wind and Waterpower.

Pathways to Sustainable Bioenergy Production

We are using spatial optimization with the APEX model to design agricultural landscapes to maximize sustainability indicators related to water quality and biodiversity. Our first case study is a cooperative venture in the South Fork Watershed, Iowa (a CEAP watershed) that involves INL, ANL, and USDA. Our role will be to optimize spatial decision variables including crop placement and management practices (e.g., fertilization, stover removal rates) on a farm scale. Objectives will include different aspects of sustainability, including reliable feedstock production and improved water quality and biodiversity. This research, initiated in 2013, is funded by the DOE Biomass Energy Technology Office.

Population Viability Analysis of Snake River Fall Chinook Salmon

Idaho Power Company is supporting the development of a metapopulation PVA model for Snake River Fall Chinook Salmon.  Using this model, we are quantifying the long-term extinction risk for this threatened species with the existing spatial structure.  In addition, we have using the model to examine circumstances under which the ESU would benefit from adding a new population.  Recent years of high spawner returns have allowed us to better define the spawner-recruitment relationship for this ESU, which has been incorporated into the metapopulation PVA.  We have modeled the influence of juvenile life history diversity (individuals following a "reservoir-type" life history by overwintering in reservoirs).  Alex Perkins developed a temperature-driven model of juvenile growth and development to identify decision thresholds and predict what proportion of juveniles will exit as sub-yearlings and what proportion will residualize.  Jim Chandler and Phil Groves (IPC) have provided information needed to model Snake River fall Chinook and many years of experience with this population.

Forecasting Water Quality and Biodiversity

This research is funded by the DOE Biomass Energy Technology Office. It is designed to address an important future challenge for the US over the coming decades: how to determine whether bioenergy supplies meet measurable energy, environmental, and social sustainability indicators. Our project has contributed to the definition and implementation of context-specific indicators related to water quality, quantity, and biodiversity.  In collaboration with Argonne, our research focuses on major river basins draining to the Gulf of Mexico.  ORNL implemented the watershed model, SWAT, and added stover harvest and dedicated bioenergy crops, including switchgrass, poplar, willow, and energy sorghum. We are now beginning to implement SWAT for the Tennessee River Basin. Our research team includes Latha Baskaran, Gangsheng Wang, and alumnus Peter Schweizer.

To understand bioenergy influences on aquatic biodiversity, we developed empirical models to describe geographic variation in fish biodiversity in relation to water quantity and quality, landuse, and other factors. Our biodiversity modeling uses Natural Heritage data assembled by NatureServe.

We organized a session at the 2010 meeting of the International Association of Landscape Ecologists in Athens entitled "Shifting Landscapes: Bioenergy and Biodiversity", which can be viewed here.

We organized a formal debate at the 2012 meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Portland to debate whether Producing bioenergy can be sustainable for habitat availability and biodiversity, and can avoid the risk of new invaders A paper describing the debate can be found here:

We demonstrated a net decrease in median loadings for nutrients and sediment for the Arkansas-White-Red river basin, with increases in some subbasins and decreases in others, with decreases in areas converted to switchgrass. This river basin has high potential for growing switchgrass and for doing so in a manner (i.e., landcover replacements) that will result in water quality improvements. Results will appear in Global Change Biology: Bioenergy soon.

More information about the larger ORNL program is available here and the Center for BioEnergy Sustainability (CBES) is described here.

Other Recent Projects



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ESD Research Staff Listing
Last Modified: Feb 11, 2009