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Geophysical Monograph Series

 

Keywords

  • backwater
  • river
  • habitat
  • restoration
  • rehabilitation
  • fish

Index Terms

  • 0481 Biogeosciences: Restoration
  • 0458 Biogeosciences: Limnology
  • 0496 Biogeosciences: Water quality
  • 0497 Biogeosciences: Wetlands

Article

GEOPHYSICAL MONOGRAPH SERIES, VOL. 194, PP. 233-246, 2011

Connectivity and Variability: Metrics for Riverine Floodplain Backwater Rehabilitation

F. D. Shields Jr., S. S. Knight, R. Lizotte Jr., and D. G. Wren

The importance of floodplain aquatic habitats that are seasonally or periodically connected to the main channel (backwaters) within lowland riverine ecosystems is well established. However, backwaters are becoming rare as development is transforming floodplain landscapes. Therefore, rehabilitation, protection, and management of riverine backwaters are becoming increasingly common, with annual expenditures in the millions of dollars. Even with the increasing number of projects, general criteria for selecting restoration goals and evaluating project outcomes are lacking. To address this need, Kondolf et al. (2006) proposed an approach for evaluating river restorations that is based on assigning a position to the system in a four-dimensional space that represents hydrologic temporal variability on one axis and connectivity in the three spatial dimensions on the remaining three axes. Use of the Kondolf approach for evaluating restoration of a backwater adjacent to a medium-sized river in northern Mississippi is presented as a case study, in which nearby degraded and less impacted backwaters were used as references. The restoration project resulted in a reduction in main-channel connectivity and lower levels of variability for the treated backwater. Additional responses to treatment included increased summer water depth, moderation of severe diurnal water quality fluctuations, and reductions in concentrations of solids, nutrients, and chlorophyll a. Fish species richness, numbers, and biomass were unchanged following rehabilitation, but trophic structure shifted away from omnivorous species and toward predators. Ecological services provided by floodplain riverine backwaters may be enhanced by modest management measures, but regaining and maintaining connectivity with adjacent ecological functional patches remains difficult.

Citation: Shields, F. D., Jr., S. S. Knight, R. Lizotte Jr., and D. G. Wren (2011), Connectivity and variability: Metrics for riverine floodplain backwater rehabilitation, in Stream Restoration in Dynamic Fluvial Systems: Scientific Approaches, Analyses, and Tools, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 194, edited by A. Simon, S. J. Bennett and J. M. Castro, pp. 233–246, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2010GM000985.

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