Connectivity and Ecological Flows

Meeting water needs of the Nation is an increasing challenge as competition for domestic and industrial use, irrigation, energy production, and the environment grows at a time when the magnitude and frequency of extreme hydrologic events such as floods and droughts is increasing the uncertainty for water managers and creating conflict among different user groups.

The USGS Fisheries Program is developing the tools and science to help water managers evaluate tradeoffs in monetary and non-monetary costs of water allocation decisions, and understand how changes in water quantity, quality, and timing affect fisheries and aquatic resources of concern.

Fish Passage and Dams

Elwha River Restoration Project

The primary goal of the Elwha River Restoration Project is to restore the once vibrant salmon populations of the river by reintroducing spawning salmon to the upper watershed.

Related Publication: Influence of species, size and relative abundance on the outcomes of competitive interactions between brook trout and juvenile coho salmon

Dam removal: synthesis of ecological and physical responses

Observations are now available from several diverse settings nationwide to allow synthesis of key physical and ecological processes associated with dam removals.

Related Products: USGS dam removal science database, USGS Dam Removal Information Portal (DRIP)

Columbia River Fish Passage and Hydroelectric Dams

The USGS uses a suite of state-of-the-art technologies to evaluate new and innovative passage structures and management strategies. Those technologies include large and complex radio and acoustic telemetry projects.

Related Publication: An evaluation of fish behavior upstream of the water temperature control tower at Cougar Dam, Oregon, using acoustic cameras, 2013

Ecological Flows

Ecological Flows of Freshwater Fishes and Mussels

USGS scientists are determining the the effect of flow on mussels and trout and incorporating that information into a decision support system.

Related Product: Upper Delaware River riverine environmental flow decision support system (REFDSS)

Related Publication: Physical and chemical constraints limit the habitat window for an endangered mussel

Ecological Flows Research at FORT: Aquatic Systems Branch

Our research examines how water flows affect populations, communities, ecosystems, and hydroscapes.

Related Product: Smart River GIS for Improved Decision Making

WaterSMART: Ecological Water

Understanding the quantity, timing, and quality of water flow and storage required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihoods and well-being that depend on these ecosystems.

Focus Area Studies: Colorado River Basin, Delaware River Basin, and Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin



Top Photo: Juvenile coho salmon in a small spring-fed channel in the lower reach of the Elwha River. Photo courtesy of Roger Tabor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.