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Ecological Considerations for Stream Projects

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Paper number  701P0904,  . (doi: 10.13031/2013.17413)
Authors:   K. L. Boyer
Keywords:   Aquatic, flooding, restoration, stream corridor, streams, riparian, rivers

The NRCS Stream Design Guide provides guidance for teams of engineers, biologists, geomorphologists, hydrologists, landowners, and resource managers who are planning and designing projects intended to improve streams, and how they function. Specific stream project goals may include controlling floods or sediment sources, hastening drainage, stabilizing banks, improving fish habitat, or restoring the ecological functions and processes of a stream and its floodplain. Many approaches and techniques can be used to reach these goals, but recognition of the living and nonliving components of the stream ecosystem, its watershed, how they interact and affect each other, and the timeframes over which stream processes occur will improve the probability of desirable outcomes. The chemical and biological processes that occur within stream corridors, and between them and adjacent lands, are intricate and involve numerous linkages and feedback loops. Accordingly, this paper provides a brief overview of current knowledge regarding stream ecosystem processes and functions important to consider when designing stream improvements. Topics to be presented will include (1) ecological responses to movement of water and materials, longitudinal and lateral adjustment of channels, and floodplain alterations; (2) key ecological processes critical to aquatic community dynamics; (3) types of stream corridor habitats; and (4) the relative importance of disturbance in sustaining aquatic communities.

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