Spatio-temporal variation of floodplain habitat for restoration management

Start/End: April, 2016 to March, 2018

River floodplain environments support some of the world’s most diverse and productive ecosystems, yet they are degraded by alterations to water flows, leveeing, and other land use changes. Such changes disrupt the complex interaction between flow and landscape that drive floodplain ecosystems. Understanding a floodplain’s hydrospatial regime – the patterns of flooding over time and space – and its impact on habitat availability can provide key insights for flow management and restoration efforts in the Delta and beyond. Broadly, this project supports the need to better balance objectives within altered riverine landscapes and under changing future conditions.

This project will establish a new approach to quantify floodplain habitat availability and variability spatially and temporally under different management scenarios. Specifically, the project will:

  • Develop a spatially explicit method, using hydrodynamic modeling, to quantify the hydrospatial regime for floodplains, using a lower Cosumnes River floodplain restoration site as a case study.
  • Quantify differences in physical floodplain fish habitat availability pre- and post-restoration across flood types and water years.
  • Assess the role of spatial heterogeneity in providing habitat pre- and post-restoration across flood types and water years.
  • Provide insight and new tools to plan and evaluate flow and restoration efforts useful for project partners and other Delta water and land managers.