Conceptualizing and communicating ecological river restoration: Chapter 2

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We present a general conceptual model for communicating aspects of river restoration and management. The model is generic and adaptable to most riverine settings, independent of size. The model has separate categories of natural and social-economic drivers, and management actions are envisioned as modifiers of naturally dynamic systems. The model includes a decision-making structure in which managers, stakeholders, and scientists interact to define management objectives and performance evaluation. The model depicts a stress to the riverine ecosystem as either (1) deviation in the regimes (flow, sediment, temperature, light, biogeochemical, and genetic) by altering the frequency, magnitude, duration, timing, or rate of change of the fluxes or (2) imposition of a hard structural constraint on channel form. Restoration is depicted as naturalization of those regimes or removal of the constraint. The model recognizes the importance of river history in conditioning future responses. Three hierarchical tiers of essential ecosystem characteristics (EECs) illustrate how management actions typically propagate through physical/chemical processes to habitat to biotic responses. Uncertainty and expense in modeling or measuring responses increase in moving from tiers 1 to 3. Social-economic characteristics are shown in a parallel structure that emphasizes the need to quantify trade-offs between ecological and social-economic systems. Performance measures for EECs are also hierarchical, showing that selection of measures depend on participants’ willingness to accept uncertainty. The general form is of an adaptive management loop in which the performance measures are compared to reference conditions or success criteria and the information is fed back into the decision-making process.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Conceptualizing and communicating ecological river restoration: Chapter 2
DOI 10.1029/2010GM000967
Volume 194
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 19 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Stream Restoration in Dynamic Fluvial Systems
First page 9
Last page 27
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