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Process-Based Ecological River Restoration: Visualizing Three-Dimensional Connectivity and Dynamic Vectors to Recover Lost Linkages

G. Mathias Kondolf, University of California, Berkeley
Andrew J. Boulton, Ecosystem Management, University of New England
Scott O'Daniel, University of California-Santa Barbara
Geoffrey C Poole, Eco-metrics, Inc. and University of Georgia
Frank J. Rahel, University of Wyoming
Emily H. Stanley, University of Wisconsin
Ellen Wohl, Colorado State University
Asa Bång, Mid Sweden University
Julia Carlstrom, National Board of Fisheries
Chiara Cristoni
Harald Huber, University of Munich
Saija Koljonen, University of Jyväskylä, Department of Biological and Environmental Science
Pauliina Louhi, Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute
Keigo Nakamura, Public Works Research Institute, Japan


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Human impacts to aquatic ecosystems often involve changes in hydrologic connectivity and flow regime. Drawing upon examples in the literature and from our experience, we developed conceptual models and used simple bivariate plots to visualize human impacts and restoration efforts in terms of connectivity and flow dynamics. Human-induced changes in longitudinal, lateral, and vertical connectivity are often accompanied by changes in flow dynamics, but in our experience restoration efforts to date have more often restored connectivity than flow dynamics. Restoration actions have included removing dams to restore fish passage, reconnecting flow through artificially cut-off side channels, setting back or breaching levees, and removing fine sediment deposits that block vertical exchange with the bed, thereby partially restoring hydrologic connectivity, i.e., longitudinal, lateral, or vertical. Restorations have less commonly affected flow dynamics, presumably because of the social and economic importance of water diversions or flood control. Thus, as illustrated in these bivariate plots, the trajectories of ecological restoration are rarely parallel with degradation trajectories because restoration is politically and economically easier along some axes more than others.

Key words

connectivity; flow dynamics; hyporheic zone; river restoration.

Copyright © 2006 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087