Two-dimensional hydrodynamic models are now widely used in aquatic habitat studies. To test the sensitivity of calculated habitat outcomes to limitations of such a model and of typical field data, bathymetry, depth and velocity data were collected for three discharges in the vicinity of two large boulders in the South Platte River (Colorado) and used in the River2D model. Simulated depth and velocity were compared with observed values at 204 locations and the differences in habitat numbers produced by observed and simulated conditions were calculated. The bulk of the differences between simulated and observed depth and velocity values were found to lie within the likely error of measurement. However, the effect of flow simulation outliers on potential habitat outcomes must be considered when using 2D models for habitat simulation. Furthermore, the shape of the habitat suitability relation can influence the effects of simulation errors. Habitat relations with steep slopes in the velocity ranges found in similar study areas are expected to be sensitive to the magnitude of error found here. Comparison of habitat values derived from simulated and observed depth and velocity revealed a small tendency to under-predict habitat values.
Additional publication details
Field evaluation of a two-dimensinal hydrodynamic model near boulders for habitat calculation