CERC Branch: River-Corridor Habitat Dynamics Research

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 complexity, LMOR

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.

Hydroacoustic vessel R/V Lucien BrushProject 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. 

In The News

  • Scientist Questions Flood Benefits of Public Lands Along Missouri River
    Tuesday, July 5, 2011
    Public lands along the Missouri River don't soak up nearly as much floodwater as previously believed. At least that's the initial conclusion of Robb Jacobson, who has studied the river for two decades. The idea of publicly managed wetlands warding off big floods was "wishful thinking," he said, and couldn't be backed by science. "For large floods, unless we have a lot more of these flood plains and wetlands, it's unlikely they'll store a big enough volume to attenuate the flood," Jacobson said. "Locally, they'll have an effect. But systematically, they won't."  Read More
  • Flood Risk Determines Wetland Restoration Potential Along Missouri River
    Friday, June 10, 2011
    High or low flood risks can determine where wetland restoration might occur on the lower Missouri River, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey Columbia Environmental Research Center and the Nature Conservancy’s Missouri River Program.
    Contact: Robert Jacobson, 573-876-1844 Read More
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