Mapping hydrologic alteration and ecological consequences in stream reaches of the conterminous United States

Ryan A. McManamay, Rob George, Ryan R. Morrison, Benjamin L. Ruddell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Environmental flows are critical for balancing societal water needs with that of riverine ecosystems; however, data limitations often hinder the development of predictive relationships between anthropogenic modifications to streamflow regimes and ecological responses - these relationships are the basis for setting regional water policy standards for rivers. Herein, we present and describe a comprehensive dataset of modeled hydrologic alteration and consequences for native fish biodiversity, both mapped at the stream-reach resolution for the conterminous U.S. Using empirical observations of reference conditions and anthropogenically altered streamflow at over 7000 stream gauges, we developed a predictive model of hydrologic alteration, which was extended to >2.6 million stream reaches. We then used a previous nationwide assessment of ecological responses to hydrologic alteration to predict fish biodiversity loss in stream reaches resulting from streamflow modification. Validation efforts suggested hydrologic alteration models had satisfactory performance, whereas modeled ecological responses were susceptible to compounded errors. The dataset could ameliorate regional data deficits for setting environmental flow standards while providing tools for prioritizing streamflow protection or restoration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450
Number of pages1
JournalScientific Data
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 28 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Information Systems
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Library and Information Sciences

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