Investigating Applied Stream Restoration: Can We Locally Protect Aquatic Ecosystems from Large-Scale Disturbances in Urban Areas?

EPA Grant Number: U915920
Title: Investigating Applied Stream Restoration: Can We Locally Protect Aquatic Ecosystems from Large-Scale Disturbances in Urban Areas?
Investigators: Schiff, Roy K.
Institution: Yale University
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through January 1, 2004
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Aquatic Ecosystems , Fellowship - Aquatic Ecology and Ecosystems


The overall objective of this research project is to identify why current restoration practices often are not leading to expected improvements in aquatic ecosystem functions. The specific objectives of this research project are to: (1) fill the knowledge gap in assessing the effects of stream restoration techniques on aquatic ecosystems; and (2) develop a protocol to evaluate stream restoration in a suitable time frame to supply information to the adaptive management process. Many of the streams in the United States have degraded water quality and impaired habitat nonpoint source (NPS) pollution originating from agricultural and urbanized landscapes. Applied techniques, such as bank stabilization and instream habitat enhancement, supposedly protect and restore streams, yet aquatic habitat loss continues and water quality improvements associated with the successful regulation of point discharges have plateaued throughout the country. Despite the rapidly expanding stream restoration movement during the past decade, aquatic biodiversity continues to decline, and freshwater resources often are impaired or threatened.


A paired upstream-downstream site study is used to investigate the local and cumulative effects of several popular rehabilitation practices. This research monitors physical, chemical, and biological variables at various spatial scales to observe the effects of stream restoration. I propose that current applied stream restoration techniques do not protect aquatic ecosystems (e.g., maintain superior water quality, habitat, and biodiversity) from landscape-scale perturbations. Specifically, I hypothesize that NPS pollution and altered hydrology in urbanized catchments overrun local rehabilitation practices that do not collectively protect aquatic ecosystem functions. Ultimately, a more holistic applied stream restoration method will be created to preserve aquatic habitat, protect sources of drinking water, and guide land use management.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, nonpoint source pollution, NPS, NPS pollution, water quality, aquatic ecosystem functions, stream restoration, drinking water, land use, land use management, water quality, water pollution.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001
  • 2002
  • Final