This paper presents a conceptual framework to operationalize flow–ecology relationships into decision-support systems of practical use to water-resource managers, who are commonly tasked with balancing multiple competing socioeconomic and environmental priorities. We illustrate this framework with a case study, whereby fish community responses to various water-management scenarios were predicted in a partially regulated river system at a local watershed scale. This case study simulates management scenarios based on interactive effects of dam operation protocols, withdrawals for municipal water supply, effluent discharges from wastewater treatment, and inter-basin water transfers. Modeled streamflow was integrated with flow–ecology relationships relating hydrologic departure from reference conditions to fish species richness, stratified by trophic, reproductive, and habitat characteristics. Adding a hypothetical new water-withdrawal site was predicted to increase the frequency of low-flow conditions with adverse effects for several fish groups. Imposition of new reservoir release requirements was predicted to enhance flow and fish species richness immediately downstream of the reservoir, but these effects were dissipated further downstream. The framework presented here can be used to translate flow–ecology relationships into evidence-based management by developing decision-support systems for conservation of riverine biodiversity while optimizing water availability for human use.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Putting flow-ecology relationships into practice: A decision-support system to assess fish community response to water-management scenarios|
|Contributing office(s)||Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center|
|Description||Article 196; 18 p.|