Rodney R Knight


Rodney Knight is a research hydrologist focused on environmental flow science.  As part of his early research, he has confronted three basic challenges to quantifying the biological response to hydrologic behavior of streams throughout the Tennessee River basin: (1) understanding the role and complexity of flow regime, (2) defining appropriate reference conditions and the biological response to flow alteration, and (3) identifying appropriate tools (models) to inform analyses and decision making.  Following on his work in the Tennessee River basin, Rodney began work in 2016 in collaboration with the US EPA on evaluating environmental flows across the Gulf Coast as part of a 7-year project funded by the RESTORE Council.  This project will be conducted in two phases.  The first will look at streamflow alteration across the five Gulf States and provide tools and understanding to help resource managers prioritize restoration efforts and assess how changes in streamflow and streamflow alteration are related to human and climatic influences as well as linkages to estuarine health.  The second phase will focus flow ecology research in a large river basin and develop a decision-support system allowing resource managers to better understand changes in streamflow (reservoir operations, increased water use for example) in the context of meeting instream goals and constraints and potential response of aquatic ecology. 

As part of this research, Rodney was asked to participate in the USGS John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis workgroup focused on water availability for ungauged rivers, which provided the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from the University of Zurich to publish two papers focused on evaluating model calibration criteria and the importance of calibration criteria selection when estimating ecological flow characteristics.  In 2015, the Governor of Alabama requested that Rodney participate with the Alabama Water Agency Working Group Instream Flow Focus Area Panel.  The purpose of this panel was to develop a research strategy to use as a foundation for water policy decision making, with a final report to the Governor.  This provided Rodney with the opportunity to represent the USGS perspective and role in the development of public water policy.  In addition to focusing on environmental flow science in the southeast, Rodney was asked to represent the USGS along the with chief hydrologist on a Federal Interagency Panel tasked by the White House with describing the impact of global climate change on freshwater resources.