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Water 2017, 9(3), 196; doi:10.3390/w9030196

Putting Flow–Ecology Relationships into Practice: A Decision-Support System to Assess Fish Community Response to Water-Management Scenarios

1
U.S. Geological Survey, Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center, Nashville, 37211 TN, USA
2
HydroLogics, Boulder, 80027 CO, USA
3
HydroLogics, Chapel Hill, 27517 NC, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Peter L. M. Goethals
Received: 21 December 2016 / Revised: 21 February 2017 / Accepted: 6 March 2017 / Published: 8 March 2017
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Abstract

This paper presents a conceptual framework to operationalize flow–ecology relationships into decision-support systems of practical use to water-resource managers, who are commonly tasked with balancing multiple competing socioeconomic and environmental priorities. We illustrate this framework with a case study, whereby fish community responses to various water-management scenarios were predicted in a partially regulated river system at a local watershed scale. This case study simulates management scenarios based on interactive effects of dam operation protocols, withdrawals for municipal water supply, effluent discharges from wastewater treatment, and inter-basin water transfers. Modeled streamflow was integrated with flow–ecology relationships relating hydrologic departure from reference conditions to fish species richness, stratified by trophic, reproductive, and habitat characteristics. Adding a hypothetical new water-withdrawal site was predicted to increase the frequency of low-flow conditions with adverse effects for several fish groups. Imposition of new reservoir release requirements was predicted to enhance flow and fish species richness immediately downstream of the reservoir, but these effects were dissipated further downstream. The framework presented here can be used to translate flow–ecology relationships into evidence-based management by developing decision-support systems for conservation of riverine biodiversity while optimizing water availability for human use. View Full-Text
Keywords: water management; environmental flows; decision-support system; streamflow alteration; scenario analysis; fish species richness; ecohydrology water management; environmental flows; decision-support system; streamflow alteration; scenario analysis; fish species richness; ecohydrology
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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    Doi: DOI:10.5066/F7JH3J83
    Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.5066/F7JH3J83
    Description: Streamflow and fish community diversity data for use in developing ecological limit functions for the Cumberland Plateau, northeastern Middle Tennessee and southwestern Kentucky, 2016

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MDPI and ACS Style

Cartwright, J.; Caldwell, C.; Nebiker, S.; Knight, R. Putting Flow–Ecology Relationships into Practice: A Decision-Support System to Assess Fish Community Response to Water-Management Scenarios. Water 2017, 9, 196.

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