Stream Restoration is Influenced by Details of Engineered Habitats at a Headwater Mine Site

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A lack of information regarding which ecological factors influence restoration success or failure has hindered scientifically based restoration decision-making. 

USGS ecologists studied two post-mining restoration projects implemented on the same headwater stream to determine the ecological effects of two different restoration strategies and to elucidate potential mechanisms contributing to different ecological outcomes. One project simulated natural stream conditions by creating a complex channel with high habitat heterogeneity. A second project used a sand filter to reduce contaminants and sediment along a straight, armored channel, resulting in comparatively low habitat heterogeneity. Within two years, stream habitat parameters and community composition within the high heterogeneity reach were similar to those of reference reaches. In contrast, the low heterogeneity reach contained poor habitat conditions for tailed frog larvae, most macroinvertebrates, and fish, even 7–8 years after project completion. Stream communities can respond quickly to restoration of physical characteristics and increased heterogeneity, but “details matter” because interactions between habitats and species can be complex, unpredictable, and can influence restoration effectiveness. 

Arkle, R.S., Pilliod, D.S., 2021, Stream Restoration is Influenced by Details of Engineered Habitats at a Headwater Mine Site: Diversity, v. 13, no. 2, p. 48, https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020048 

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Date published: November 27, 2017
Status: Active

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Biology Team (FRESC)

Wildlife respond to changes in their environment, some of which are dramatic and others subtle. To fully understand the factors that drive changes in populations and communities, we need better information on wildlife ecology in natural and human-altered landscapes. We conduct research and provide technical assistance to address applied questions about the ecology and conservation of wildlife...

Contacts: David S Pilliod