Abstracts

Connecting water level to biological health in Alabama streams

Author(s): Rose, C.; Knight, R.; O’Neil, P.

Water is critical to the survival of aquatic biota, but little has been done to quantify the minimum water level in a stream that provides adequate support for aquatic biological communities. Most research in this field has focused either on connections between various streamflow measures and aquatic habitat, linkages between aquatic habitat and the biological health of streams, or using the annual or monthly 7Q10 or other low-flow measures to establish minimum flows. Resource managers need a better understanding of the interaction and linkages between streamflow, water level, channel morphology, physical habitat availability (streambed), and biological health to establish scientifically-defensible flow requirements. The proposed analysis will be based on existing streamflow, channel morphology, physical habitat availability, and biological health (richness, diversity, or IBI score) data at each site. The analysis will include, but is not limited to: daily value streamflow time series, streamflow measurement data (cross-section data), game and non-game fish community data, available habitat data, and stream cross-sectional surveys. Existing data from 15 to 20 streams in different physiographic regions of Alabama will then be used to answer the following questions: • Is physical habitat quantity maximized at low, yet consistent streamflow? • Is the streamflow associated with maximized physical habitat predictable and does it vary regionally according to published geologic and physiographic boundaries? • Does biological health of fish communities appear to be correlated with the amount of time streamflow is lower than that associated with the maximized physical habitat?

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