KRIS Sheepscot Working Hypotheses
The Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association (SVCA) and the Institute for Fisheries Resources (IFR) were funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission to acquire, integrate, and interpret watershed information to support State and Federal Recovery Planning efforts for Atlantic salmon. The IFR and SVCA team drew upon available data concerning fisheries, water quality, watershed conditions, and restoration efforts to build a comprehensive database for the Sheepscot River using Klamath Resources Information System (KRIS) software. KRIS projects allow analysis of patterns in watershed data in the form of working hypotheses, which are in draft below. The Sheepscot Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) is over seeing the development of the KRIS Sheepscot database and has participated in review and formulation of the hypotheses, but contents are a product of SVCA and IFR and may not necessarily reflect endorsement of agencies represented through staff on the STAC.
Where there appears to be substantial evidence connecting Sheepscot River conditions to the health of aquatic habitat and fish communities, the IFR and SVCA team formulated "working hypotheses" to explain these connections. A hypothesis, according to Webster's Dictionary, is a "formula derived by inference from scientific data that explains a principal operating in nature. Hypothesis implies insufficiency of presently attainable evidence and therefore a tentative explanation...." The KRIS team used a weight-of-evidence approach rather than a formal, statistical analysis. The rationale for these working hypotheses is, however, based on the current scientific literature concerning Atlantic salmon watersheds. Each of the hypothesis Background pages is framed in the same way. Regional and local literature that provide the analysis background are provided, followed by presentation of information from KRIS Sheepscot that are consistent with the hypothesis, including charts, pictures and maps. This is followed by the presentation of an alternative hypotheses and, finally, suggestions for additional studies needed to test the preferred and alternative hypotheses.
Hypothesis #1: The abundance and distribution of Atlantic salmon in the Sheepscot River watershed have been reduced.
Hypothesis #2: Elevated water temperature is limiting Atlantic salmon production in many reaches and tributaries of the Sheepscot River.
Hypothesis #3: Physical habitat is limiting Atlantic salmon in the Sheepscot River watershed.
Hypothesis #4: Dams are impeding recovery of Altantic Salmon in the Sheepscot River watershed.
Hypothesis #5: Water quality is impeding recovery in some reaches of the Sheepscot River.
Hypothesis #6: Predation by introduced fish species is limiting Atlantic salmon production in the Sheepscot River and its tributaries.