Title page for ETD etd-05162011-171905

Type of Document Dissertation
Author McManamay, Ryan Austin
Author's Email Address rmcmanam@vt.edu
URN etd-05162011-171905
Title Providing a Restoration Framework for Regulated Rivers
Degree PhD
Department Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Orth, Donald J. Committee Chair
Dolloff, C. Andrew Committee Co-Chair
Angermeier, Paul L. Committee Member
Cantrell, Mark A. Committee Member
Frimpong, Emmanuel A. Committee Member
Wynn, Theresa M. Committee Member
  • landscape
  • Hydrologic Landscape Regions
  • endemic fish
  • Tennessee River
  • fragmentation
  • flow-ecology relationships
  • dams
  • hydrology
  • fluvial geomorphology
  • environmental flow management
Date of Defense 2011-03-28
Availability unrestricted
With over 800,000 dams occurring globally and the construction of thousands more being proposed, successful restoration of regulated rivers will depend on the creation of broadly applicable frameworks that provide management solutions by generalizing patterns in habitat and ecology. Based on the prevailing scientific literature, restoring natural stream flows in disturbed rivers is dependent upon developing quantitative, transferable stream flow-ecology relationships. The purpose of my dissertation was to apply a framework to regulated and unregulated streams within an eight-state region of the southeastern US to test its ability to generalize patterns in natural and altered stream flow and develop flow-ecology relationships. I created a simplified, 5-step version of the Ecological Limits of Hydrologic Alteration (ELOHA) framework (Poff et al. 2010). I carried out each of the steps in sequential order for unregulated and dam-regulated streams found in my region. The steps of my restoration framework are as follows:

1) Develop a natural flow classification of unregulated streams

2) Develop a tool that uses landscape characteristics to predict flow class membership

3) Use the predictive tool or pre-disturbance hydrologic information to classify regulated rivers to natural flow classes

4) Based on class membership, generalize patterns in hydrologic alteration

5) Relate ecological patterns to patterns in hydrologic alteration in relation to morphology, temperature, and landscape disturbance

Altogether, the results of steps 1-4 suggest that patterns in natural flow dynamics and hydrologic alterations can successfully be placed within a framework and generalized to provide the basis and context for environmental flow management; however, results of step 5 suggest that patterns in flow alteration were poorly related to fish assemblages relative to channel morphology, habitat fragmentation, temperature, and substrate. Thus, the development of patterns in hydrologic alteration using the existing frameworks (including mine) may not be ecologically-relevant. My results suggest that current regulated river restoration should not be dependent upon the development of flow-ecology relationships alone, but the interaction between flow, morphology, and temperature within a landscape disturbance context. These relationships should be incorporated within a hierarchical framework to guide restoration efforts in regulated rivers in the future.

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