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Geomorphic classification of the Lower Platte River, Nebraska

September 11, 2009

Geomorphic attributes were collected from natural color aerial orthophotography to develop a multiscale classification for the downstream-most 220 kilometers of the Platte River in eastern Nebraska. The intent of this classification is to define discrete reaches that have geomorphic characteristics favorable to endangered interior least terns (Sternula antillarum) and threatened piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) who use riverine sandbars for nesting habitat. Annual to daily fluctuations in discharge present a challenge to characterizing emergent sandbar habitat directly from existing aerial orthophotography for the Platte River. Therefore, this classification is based on geomorphic measures that are relatively insensitive to prevailing river discharge but may be physically related to emergent sandbar locations. Such features include valley width, channel width, and sinuosity. The results provide four-cluster and seven-cluster classifications for the Lower Platte River based on naturally occurring, statistically determined clusters of features. The classification was validated using tern and plover nest data for 2006–08. Forty-nine percent of the nest locations fell within the same class type in the four-cluster classification, which represented 18 percent of the study area. This class is found primarily in the Eastern Platte River Gorge, downstream from Salt Creek and upstream from the junction of the Platte River with the Missouri River.

Publication Year 2009
Title Geomorphic classification of the Lower Platte River, Nebraska
DOI 10.3133/sir20095198
Authors Caroline M. Elliott, Brittany L. Huhmann, Robert B. Jacobson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2009-5198
Index ID sir20095198
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center