Geomorphic, Hydrologic and Ecological Connectivity in Columbia River Watersheds: Implications for Endangered Salmonids

EPA Grant Number: R824774
Title: Geomorphic, Hydrologic and Ecological Connectivity in Columbia River Watersheds: Implications for Endangered Salmonids
Investigators: Li, Hiram W. , Kauffman, John B. , Li, Judith L. , Beschta, Robert L.
Current Investigators: Li, Hiram W. , McIntosh, Bruce A. , Kauffman, John B. , Li, Judith L. , Beschta, Robert L. , McDowell, Patricia
Institution: Oregon State University , University of Oregon
Current Institution: Oregon State University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: January 1, 1996 through December 31, 1998
Project Amount: $899,981
RFA: Water and Watersheds (1995) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water and Watersheds , Water


The purpose of this study is to determine how geomorphic, hydrologic, and ecological factors (e.g., condition and structure of the riparian community) affect the dynamics of groundwater input and hyporheic flow in both pristine and badly disturbed streams in the high desert of the Columbia River. Changes to groundwater and hyporheic flow can be detected as temperature anomalies or temperature patches captured in images from Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) videography taken from helicopters. The multidisciplinary team (fluvial geomorphologist, hydrologist, riparian ecologist, benthic ecologist, fish ecologist, landscape ecologist) is examining the causes of stream temperature patchiness and its effect on the structure and distribution of the aquatic community (periphyton, invertebrates, fishes and amphibians). The remotely sensed images are also being used to detect sites of possible groundwater inputs and hyporheic exchange in streams. The team's research aims to explain those patterns and to observe the response by the aquatic biota at different spatial scales. A recent finding is that temperatures of reaches rise and fall in patterns of peaks and troughs in a highly disturbed stream. These may act as temperature islands, fragmenting the normal pattern of longitudinal community succession. This may be a critical factor influencing the survival of salmonids at risk of extinction as temperature directly affects the performance and survival of various life stages physiologically and indirectly affects survival by altering the structure of food chains and the intensity of interactions within the stream community. The team has documented that salmonids in this stream select coldwater patches within both warm and cool reaches, suggesting that the extent and availability of coldwater patches index carrying capacity.

Supplemental Keywords:

water, watershed, land, risk assessment, ecological effects, vulnerablility, sensitive population, ecosystem, aquatic, habitat, integratied assessment, ecology, hydrology, geology, biology, surveys, remote sensing, northwest, Region 10., RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Water & Watershed, exploratory research environmental biology, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Chemical Mixtures - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecosystem Protection, Susceptibility/Sensitive Population/Genetic Susceptibility, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecological Effects - Human Health, genetic susceptability, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, EPA Region, Watersheds, Ecological Indicators, remote sensing, risk assessment, aquatic ecosystem, ecological exposure, ecosystem assessment, endangered species, vulnerability, aquatic biota , hydrological, ecological assessment, hydrology, integrated assessment, Foward Looking Infrared, aquatic ecosystems, ecology assessment models, salmonids, Region 10, aquatic biota, ecological research, groundwater

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1996
  • 1997
  • Final Report