Ecosystem Effects of Urban Stream Restoration

EPA Grant Number: F5E11146
Title: Ecosystem Effects of Urban Stream Restoration
Investigators: Sudduth, E
Institution: Duke University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: September 1, 2005 through August 31, 2008
Project Amount: $111,172
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships


This study will examine the effects of changes in channel shape and structure on ecosystem function in restored reaches of urban streams by comparing them to unrestored, stormwater-managed, and reference reaches.


The primary questions to be answered are:

  • How have channel reconfiguration restoration efforts affected the physical and hydraulic retention of the stream channel?
  • How do these changes in channel structure affect breakdown rates of organic matter?
  • How do these changes in channel structure affect rates of gross primary production, community respiration, and net ecosystem metabolism?
  • How similar are organic dynamics of restored streams to those in unrestored, stormwater managed, and reference reaches?

Expected Results:

In general, the ecosystem function of a restored site will depend upon how degraded the site was prior to restoration and to what extent this was addressed in the restoration design. A stream whose primary impairment is severe water quality problems due to non-point source pollution will have a very different response to a full channel reconstruction than a stream whose main impairment was channel straightening 50 years previously. In some cases, the most important factor in determining ecosystem function may be improved OM retention due to the restoration activities. In other cases, it may be a still unaddressed impact in the catchment, such as changes in stormwater runoff due to urbanization. It is also possible that the most important determining factor of ecosystem function may be remaining impacts from the restoration process itself.

Supplemental Keywords:

stream restoration, stream ecology, urban ecosystems, stormwater management, channel reconfiguration, ecosystem function, organic matter processing, litter retention rates, litter breakdown rates, whole stream metabolism, gross primary production, ecological effects,, Scientific Discipline, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Restoration, Environmental Monitoring, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, dissolved organic matter, streams, groundwater recharge, restoration strategies, rivers, urban stream rehabilitation, aquatic ecosystems, environmental stress, environmental rehabilitation, urban river restoration

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2006
  • 2007
  • Final