Extensive efforts are underway along the Lower Missouri River to rehabilitate ecosystem functions in the channel and flood plain. Considerable uncertainty inevitably accompanies ecosystem restoration efforts, indicating the benefits of an adaptive management approach in which management actions are treated as experiments, and results provide information to feed back into the management process. The Overton Bottoms North Unit of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge is a part of the Missouri River Fish and Wildlife Habitat Mitigation Project. The dominant management action at the Overton Bottoms North Unit has been excavation of a side-channel chute to increase hydrologic connectivity and to enhance shallow, slow current-velocity habitat. The side-channel chute also promises to increase hydrologic gradients, and may serve to alter patterns of wetland inundation and vegetation community growth in undesired ways. The U.S. Geological Survey's Central Region Integrated Studies Program (CRISP) undertook interdisciplinary research at the Overton Bottoms North Unit in 2003 to address key areas of scientific uncertainty that were highly relevant to ongoing adaptive management of the site, and to the design of similar rehabilitation projects on the Lower Missouri River. This volume presents chapters documenting the surficial geologic, topographic, surface-water, and ground-water framework of the Overton Bottoms North Unit. Retrospective analysis of vegetation community trends over the last 10 years is used to evaluate vegetation responses to reconnection of the Overton Bottoms North Unit to the river channel. Quasi-experimental analysis of cottonwood growth rate variation along hydrologic gradients is used to evaluate sensitivity of terrestrial vegetation to development of aquatic habitats. The integrated, landscape-specific understanding derived from these studies illustrates the value of scientific information in design and management of rehabilitation projects.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Science to support adaptive habitat management: Overton Bottoms North Unit, Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, Missouri [Volumes 1-6]