An integrated Riverine Environmental Flow Decision Support System (REFDSS) to evaluate the ecological effects of alternative flow scenarios on river ecosystems

Fundamental and Applied Limnology
By: , and 

Links

Abstract

In regulated rivers, managers must evaluate competing flow release scenarios that attempt to balance both human and natural needs. Meeting these natural flow needs is complex due to the myriad of interacting physical and hydrological factors that affect ecosystems. Tools that synthesize the voluminous scientific data and models on these factors will facilitate management of these systems. Here, we present the Riverine Environmental Flow Decision Support System (REFDSS), a tool that enables evaluation of competing flow scenarios and other variables on instream habitat. We developed a REFDSS for the Upper Delaware River, USA, a system that is regulated by three headwater reservoirs. This version of the REFDSS has the ability to integrate any set of spatially explicit data and synthesizes modeled discharge for three competing management scenarios, flow-specific 2-D hydrodynamic modeled estimates of local hydrologic conditions (e.g., depth, velocity, shear stress, etc.) at a fine pixel-scale (1 m2), and habitat suitability criteria (HSC) for a variety of taxa. It contains all individual model outputs, computationally integrates these data, and outputs the amount of potentially available habitat for a suite of species of interest under each flow release scenario. Users have the flexibility to change the time period of interest and vary the HSC. The REFDSS was developed to enable side-by-side evaluation of different flow management scenarios and their effects on potential habitat availability, allowing managers to make informed decisions on the best flow scenarios. An exercise comparing two alternative flow scenarios to a baseline scenario for several key species is presented. The Upper Delaware REFDSS was robust to minor changes in HSC (± 10 %). The general REFDSS platform was developed as a user-friendly Windows desktop application that was designed to include other potential parameters of interest (e.g., temperature) and for transferability to other riverine systems.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title An integrated Riverine Environmental Flow Decision Support System (REFDSS) to evaluate the ecological effects of alternative flow scenarios on river ecosystems
Series title Fundamental and Applied Limnology
DOI 10.1127/fal/2015/0611
Volume 186
Issue 1-2
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher International Association of Theoretical and Applied Limnology
Publisher location Stuttgart, Germany
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 22 p.
First page 171
Last page 192
Country United States
State New Jersey, Pennsylvania
Other Geospatial Upper Delaware River
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N