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Grantee Research Project Results

NCER Grantee Research Project Results

Floodplain Management and Ecosystem Function on the Stanislaus River: An Evaluation of Hydrologic and Fluvial Geomorphologic Alteration

EPA Grant Number: U915575
Title: Floodplain Management and Ecosystem Function on the Stanislaus River: An Evaluation of Hydrologic and Fluvial Geomorphologic Alteration
Investigators: Schneider, Katrina S.
Institution: University of California - Berkeley
EPA Project Officer: Edwards, Jason
Project Period: August 1, 1999 through July 1, 2001
Project Amount: $52,226
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999)
Research Category: Fellowship - Social Sciences , Economics and Decision Sciences , Academic Fellowships

Description:

Objective:

The objective of this research project is to examine the degree to which flood and water management procedures have impacted ecosystem function along the Stanislaus River. In particular, I will focus on changes during the last century in the hydrologic regime (flow magnitude, duration, frequency, and timing) and river morphology (access to and inundation of floodplains; connectivity of floodplain and river channel) in the lower Stanislaus River.

Approach:

I will begin with a literature review of the role of natural river processes in the health and function of river ecosystems, documenting the interaction between ecosystem function and historical floodplain management methods. Focusing on the lower Stanislaus River, I will first evaluate changes in the hydrologic regime. I will compile and calibrate river flow data from four gauges (and two diversion sites) dating from 1903-1999. Using the Indicators for Hydrologic Alteration model, I will quantify changes in flow magnitude, frequency, duration, and timing for pre- and postdam periods. I also will examine human occupation of the floodplain for residential development and agricultural use, and explore its relationship to dam and levee construction. Secondly, I will examine changes in geomorphologic features of the river channel and its broader floodplain using historical aerial photographs and reoccupation of historical survey sites to document changes in channel morphology, vegetative cover, and other features. Using steady-flow hydraulic models, I will assess changes in floodplain inundation and connectivity due to the presence of dams and levees. Finally, I will explore the biological implication of these changes drawing on research on the Cosumnes River preserve and the Yolo Bypass, especially with respect to life cycles of fish such as juvenile salmon and splittail. I expect to document substantial hydrologic alteration and geomorphologic modification, especially following the closure of New Melones Dam in 1979.

Expected Results:

I expect to document substantial hydrologic alteration and geomorphologic modification, especially following the closure of New Melones Dam in 1979.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, aerial photography, California splittail, chinook salmon, floodplains, floodplain connectivity, floodplain management, flow alteration, geomorphology, hydrology, Indicators for Hydrologic Alteration model, river morphology, river ecosystems, river restoration, San Joaquin River basin.

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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