Identifying and Quantifying Ecological Flows with Geomorphic Functions
Keywords:habitat, ecological guilds, hydro-geomorphic processes, ecological flow, geomorphic functions
Recently, proposing environmental flow rules in order to maintain or restore the physical habitats of streams has become commonplace. Structuring ecological objectives and rationale to support such rules remains a challenging task, especially in regard to articulating relationships between hydro-geomorphic processes and ecological functions. Ecological principles and tools that support existing environmental flow methodologies include habitat rating and simulation models, ecological databases, and expert opinion, but often neglected conceptual models that study the interactions amongst hydro-geomorphic processes and ecological functions. Despite well-established tools and concepts that link fluvial geomorphology to stream ecology, restoration practitioners and water managers lack effective and practical guidelines to determine environmental flows with geomorphic functions and restore important ecological functions spatially and temporally. Therefore, this paper presents a conceptual framework that proposes process-based and science-based guidelines to integrate ecological requirements of aquatic organisms into environmental flows with geomorphic functions in gravel-based streams. It is presumed that the framework which is driven by a bimodal conceptual model and a feedback element has potential to improve the ecological basis of environmental flow rules with geomorphic focus and prioritize stream habitat assessment protocols for conservation purposes.