The USGS River-Corridor Habitat Dynamics Project
seeks to improve the scientific basis for ecological restoration of large rivers. Emphasis is placed on understanding how hydrologic and geomorphic characteristics combine to create dynamic habitats for native and exotic fauna and flora. Strong collaboration with biologists assures that habitat research is ecologically relevant.
The project is designed to improve understanding of three aspects of habitat:
Habitat Formation – the processes of sediment erosion, transport, and deposition that alter the topography of the river corridor. We emphasize empirical measurement of geomorphic changes and development of hydroacoustic tools to measure and map sediment fluxes.
Habitat Availability – the spatial and temporal distribution of habitat in the river corridor, as determined principally by the interaction between flow regime and geomorphic form. Our emphasis is on developing representative multidimensional hydraulic models to inventory habitat availability as a function of discharge.
Habitat Function – the ecological processes occurring within the habitat spaces, and how they relate to ecological integrity of the river corridor. Initial emphasis is on how invasive and endangered species use habitats in the Lower Missouri River.
Project staff collaborate on interdisciplinary studies with scientists within CERC, other USGS disciplines, Federal and State agencies, academia, and non-governmental organizations. Studies within this project include classification of habitats in large rivers of the Mid-Continent (Missouri, Platte, Loup rivers), land-capability indices applied to wetland development and cottonwood recruitment in the Missouri River, and habitat dynamics related to pallid sturgeon and Asian carp reproduction in the Missouri River.