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MODELING PHYSICAL HABITAT PARAMETERS
Hall, R. K., D T. Heggem, A C. Neale, R. D. Van Remortel, P Kaufmann, D. Hagans, AND J. Y. Hashimoto. MODELING PHYSICAL HABITAT PARAMETERS. Presented at Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) Symposium 2004, Newport, RI, May 3-7, 2004.
There are four basic objectives of the project:
Demonstrate the application of a comparative landscape assessment in analyzing the vulnerability of surface and coastal water conditions to declines based on landscape conditions (as estimated by landscape indicators as demonstrated in the mid-Atlantic landscape atlas) in western environments;
Develop and apply landscape assessment approaches relative to specific issues, including an ability to prioritize the vulnerability of areas relative to the Clean Water Act 303(d) designations; Quantify relationships between landscape conditions (as measured by landscape indicators) and surface and coastal waters in the west to reduce the uncertainty in comparative landscape assessments, and issue-specific, landscape assessments (e.g., Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDLs);
Complete a west-wide, comparative landscape assessment relative to surface and coastal water vulnerability;
Transfer landscape assessment technologies to Regional Offices so that they can conduct landscape assessments at many scales.
Salmonid populations can be affected by alterations in stream physical habitat. Fish productivity is determined by the stream's physical habitat structure ( channel form, substrate distribution, riparian vegetation), water quality, flow regime and inputs from the watershed (sediments, nutrients, and organic matter). The interaction of these components influences primary production, and fish population and community structure within the stream. Physical habitat is an important and often overlooked ingredient for good stream condition. The objective of this paper is to predict, on a watershed scale, the characteristics of stream physical habitat structure in the Eel River Basin. Geology in the basin is dominated by the Franciscan formation, a complex assemblage of shales, sandstones and conglomerates of marine origin intermixed with igneous extrusives. These lithologies in combination with regional tectonic activity , steep terrain and climatic factors have rendered the Eel River Basin geologically unstable. Net result is high sediment loads to the streams. Terrestrial and riparian habitat consist of low elevation oak woodlands with valley oak grading to pines and fir at higher elevations. Canopy conditions range from closed, or nearly closed to open depending on the level of human disturbance. The metric of riparian habitat quality is calculated by using the National Land Cover Data along with the National Hydrological Data to determine the percentage of riparian vegetation cover. Per cent riparian forest correlated with channel alteration and bank stability .Sediment distribution, as tons per year for subwatersheds using the RUSLE model, correlated with the EMAP and Rapid Habitat Assessment sediment parameters.