patrick D. Shirey


Brook trout in the Namekagon River:

Scientific observations help identify declines in stream function or changes in populations of key species, such as brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis).  Historical studies can help determine the need for restoration and aid in planning, monitoring, and adapting restoration projects.  For example, we have examined historical materials to describe the history of the wild and scenic Namekagon River in Wisconsin (Namekagon River prior to logging (Turner 1889), and after logging in the 1920s (NPS), lower right). 


Patrick D. Shirey

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) spends over $1 billion each year on endangered species, yet we have only delisted 30 species during the history of the Endangered Species Act. In addition to endangered species, state and federal agencies annually spend over $1 billion on stream restoration, yet only ~10% of the projects are monitored to learn from success and failure.  Ecological restoration and endangered species recovery are multi-step conservation actions that typically incorporate research from multiple disciplines. 

Galvin Life Sciences Building

Notre Dame, IN 46556


Adjunct Assistant Professor

Ph.D. University of Notre Dame

J.D. The Dickinson School of Law

M.S. New Mexico State University

B.S. The Pennsylvania State University

Endangered Species and Assisted Colonization: Because some habitats may be too fragmented to allow for recovery to historical trajectories, alternatives such as species translocation and assisted colonization have been proposed for recovering threatened and endangered species, which we illustrated with an endangered butterfly and endangered plant species.  Assisted colonization has been used to mitigate for habitat loss.  For example, the Virginia round-leaf birch was down-listed from endangered to threatened because ex situ conservation efforts by botanical gardens allowed for assisted colonization organized by the Fish and Wildlife Service (Shirey and Lamberti 2010 Conservation Letters - Assisted colonization under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.pdf).  However, there are risks associated with moving any species, such as the risk of transporting pests and pathogens. 

Endangered Species and Commercial Trade: When researching examples of endangered species that had been moved outside of their historical range, we noticed that several endangered plant species were readily available to buy over the Internet.  Sales of endangered plants in interstate commerce require a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, even if specimens are of cultivated origin.  However, very few sellers appeared to be obtaining the proper permits.  This developed into an invited comment article published in Nature after presenting the research at the Ecological Society of America annual meeting in 2010 (Shirey and Lamberti 2011. Nature 469, 465-467), and a full manuscript in Conservation Letters in 2013 (Shirey et al. DOI 10.1111/conl.12031) providing details on commercial trade in listed plants and suggestions for the government and private sector to work together to regulate (not ban) the trade in plants. Please email me if you would like more information or a copy of the 2013 Conservation Letters manuscript. 

Financial support: In addition to support from the GLOBES NSF IGERT program, we have also received financial support from the Notre Dame Center for Aquatic Conservation, the Notre Dame College of Science, the National Park Service, including a NPS George Melendez Wright Climate Change Fellowship (2012-2013), and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Please explore my website further, including details on my research, publications, news, and curriculum vitae.

Contact Patrick Shirey

Outcome of the history research:

We identified a need for monitoring water temperature of the Namekagon River and its tributaries.  I received funding from the George Melendez Wright Climate Change Fellowship (National Park Service) to do so. 

This research informed an additional proposal to reconnect spring seep habitat to the river to provide spawning habitat for brook trout; the National Park Service committed to fund this restoration and monitoring project planned for FY2016-2018.

Urban Stream Restoration in Juday Creek:

Worldwide, stream restoration monitoring lags restoration efforts tenfold.  In northern Indiana in the Midwestern United States, humans dramatically altered the landscape for agriculture in the 1800s by draining prairie wetlands, clearing forests, and straightening stream channels into ditches.  In the 1900s, increased urbanization imparted additional changes to streams from increased pollution and input of fine sediment from development.

The Lamberti Stream Ecology Laboratory has monitored fish community response to reach-scale, hard-engineering restoration of two meanders constructed in 1997 along an 800-m reach of Juday Creek, a 3rd-order tributary of the St. Joseph River in South Bend, IN.  I started participating in this monitoring program in 2007 and have taken a leadership role to (1) review the watershed history of Juday Creek, (2) quantify fish response to the restoration, and (3) discuss policy implications for future management and restoration under the Indiana Drainage Law.  This study demonstrates the importance of incorporating several steps in the process of conducting stream restoration. 

Coupled with these changes were policies that encouraged the maintenance of streams as efficient drainage networks without consideration of streams as ecosystems.  While streams in these landscapes are being restored using active engineering, few projects include quantitative monitoring of ecological responses for the years required to evaluate fish community response. 

To inform species recovery and habitat restoration, I use an interdisciplinary approach that combines methods from ecology, history, and law

Thank you for visiting my website.  I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to society as a scientist who has training and expertise in law and policy. Please email me if I can be of assistance to you.