Ozarks Stream Dynamics and Native Mussel Habitats

Science Center Objects

The National Park Service is implementing plans for the survey and management of the mussel fauna at the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and Buffalo National River in Missouri. CERC scientists are conducting research to understand how geomorphic patterns effect the distribution of mussels in Missouri streams.

The Issue:

A hydrologic technician used the Z-boat to map habitat

A hydrologic technician parked on a gravel bar uses the Z-boat to map habitat on the Current River. The Z-boat is a remote controlled, battery operated vessel which utilizes an accoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) to map shallow-water habitats. 

(Public domain.)

Gravel-bed streams of the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks experienced accelerated rates of gravel delivery due to widespread landscape disturbance in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Movement of sediment waves through the channel network has resulted in areas of elevated bed mobility and channel migration, especially in those reaches predisposed to greater channel activity. Sessile benthic organisms, such as freshwater mussels, can be negatively affected in a system of shifting habitat units that change at a faster rate than their ability to move and recolonize.

Addressing the Issue:

Using a multi-scale approach to develop a mechanistic understanding of geomorphic instability within the Buffalo, Current, and Jacks Fork Rivers in Missouri, CERC scientists will use remotely sensed data to assess the distribution of stable disturbance reaches in Ozark NSR and Buffalo NR and to determine if and how the spatial distribution of these reaches has changed through time. In addition, CERC scientists are developing a classification framework, based on valley scale characteristics, channel planform, patterns of channel activity, valley scale characteristics, and tributary basin characteristics.


Next Steps:

CERC scientists will:

  • Select geomorphic monitoring reaches on each river that are representative of both stable and disturbance reaches and document the geomorphic response of these distinct habitats to flows capable of entraining sediment.
  • Conduct high resolution bathymetric mapping via RTK-GPS and directly measure bed material grain size.
  • Develop high-resolution habitat maps and two-dimensional hydraulic models to predict the timing and extent of channel instability at the patch scale.




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