Geomorphic classification of the Lower Platte River, Nebraska

Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5198
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
By: , and 



Geomorphic attributes were collected from natural color aerial orthophotography to develop a multiscale classification for the downstream-most 220 kilometers of the Platte River in eastern Nebraska. The intent of this classification is to define discrete reaches that have geomorphic characteristics favorable to endangered interior least terns (Sternula antillarum) and threatened piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) who use riverine sandbars for nesting habitat. Annual to daily fluctuations in discharge present a challenge to characterizing emergent sandbar habitat directly from existing aerial orthophotography for the Platte River. Therefore, this classification is based on geomorphic measures that are relatively insensitive to prevailing river discharge but may be physically related to emergent sandbar locations. Such features include valley width, channel width, and sinuosity. The results provide four-cluster and seven-cluster classifications for the Lower Platte River based on naturally occurring, statistically determined clusters of features. The classification was validated using tern and plover nest data for 2006–08. Forty-nine percent of the nest locations fell within the same class type in the four-cluster classification, which represented 18 percent of the study area. This class is found primarily in the Eastern Platte River Gorge, downstream from Salt Creek and upstream from the junction of the Platte River with the Missouri River.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Geomorphic classification of the Lower Platte River, Nebraska
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2009-5198
DOI 10.3133/sir20095198
Edition -
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description vi, 30 p.
Time Range Start 2006-01-01
Time Range End 2008-12-31
Country United States
State Nebraska
Other Geospatial Lower Platte River
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details