Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 604
Title: Global review of the physical and biological effectiveness of stream habitat rehabiliataion techniques
Author: P. Roni, K. Hanson, T. J. Beechie
Publication Year: 2008
Journal: North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Volume: 28
Issue: 3
Pages: 856-890

Abstract.The degradation of inland aquatic habitats caused by decades of human activities has led to worldwide efforts to rehabilitate freshwater habitats for fisheries and aquatic resources. We reviewed published evaluations of stream rehabilitation techniques from throughout the world, including studies on road improvement, riparian rehabilitation, floodplain connectivity and rehabilitation, instream habitat improvement, nutrient addition, and other, less-common techniques. We summarize current knowledge about the effectiveness of these techniques for improving physical habitat and water quality and increasing fish and biotic production. Despite locating 345 studies on effectiveness of stream rehabilitation, firm conclusions about many specific techniques were difficult to make because of the limited information provided on physical habitat, water quality, and biota and because of the short duration and limited scope of most published evaluations. Reconnection of isolated habitats, floodplain rehabilitation, and instream habitat improvement have, however, proven effective for improving habitat and increasing local fish abundance under many circumstances. Techniques such as riparian rehabilitation, road improvements (sediment reduction), dam removal, and restoration of natural flood regimes have shown promise for restoring natural processes that create and maintain habitats, but no long-term studies documenting their success have yet been published. Our review demonstrates that the failure of many rehabilitation projects to achieve objectives is attributable to inadequate assessment of historic conditions and factors limiting biotic production; poor understanding of watershed-scale processes that influence localized projects; and monitoring at inappropriate spatial and temporal scales. We suggest an interim approach to sequencing rehabilitation projects that partially addresses these needs through protecting high-quality habitats and restoring connectivity and watershed processes before implementing instream habitat improvement projects.

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