USGS - science for a changing world

Hydroecology of Flowing Waters

Team Contact:

Judson W. Harvey, Ph.D
U.S. Geological Survey
430 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
703-648-5876 phone
703-648-5484 fax

Hydroecology of Flowing Waters

Research Overview:

Greater integration is sought in characterizing the feedbacks between hydrologic, geomorphic, and ecological factors that influence storage, transformation, and downstream transport of solutes and particulate materials in flowing waters

Hydroecological interactions in flowing waters have significant potential to affect water supply, water quality, and fish and wildlife habitat value of the nation’s aquatic ecosystems. Streams and rivers remain linked with the terrestrial landscape through repeated movement of water, solutes, and suspended materials back and forth between the active channel and floodplains. Water exchange also occurs with slowly moving subsurface waters in the hyporheic zone beneath and to the sides of the channel. These hydroecological interactions often have rapid and far-reaching effects over storage, transport, and cycling of dissolved constituents and particulates as they are transported across the landscape. In order to better understand the hydrological and ecological functions of flowing waters, the important unit of study is not the river itself but rather the considerably larger “river corridor” that actively exchanges water and material with the river’s active surface channel. The interplay between ecological, geomorphic, hydrologic, and biogeochemical factors will strongly influence how aquatic ecosystems, water quality, and quality of aquatic and riparian habitats respond to human disturbances and changing climate.

Project Objectives:

  1. Develop innovative measurements to quantify material transport in flowing waters and apply these new tools in field areas representing many types of channels and floodplain ecosystems. Utilize these new field data to improve our understanding of how river and wetland corridors respond to environmental change
  2. Integrate field investigations across larger spatial scales using ground-based, airborne, and remotely sensed geospatial data to help characterize cumulative effects of river and wetland corridors on carbon, nutrient, and sediment budgets
  3. Implement numerical models to reveal the key processes that control material transport and biogeochemical reaction rates in river and wetland corridors. Use models to project how channel and floodplain ecosystems will respond to future changes in hydrologic inputs and human management
  4. Synthesize a national-scale understanding of flow and biogeochemical transformations that influence the overall sustainability of the nation’s flowing waters and potential for restoration in degraded river and wetland corridors

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey | National Research Program
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 04-Mar-2014 11:27:44 EST