1 year ago



Go with the flow:

Go with the flow: Restoring streams with an eye toward turbulence Long-term monitoring led by researchers from Eastern Illinois University (EIU) has revealed that the type of turbulence in a stream is a driver of ecosystem rehabilitation success. Anabela Maia and then-master’s student Carl Favata a few years ago joined a project started by fellow EIU researcher Robert Colombo to investigate changes in Kickapoo Creek. A section of the central Illinois stream had been restored in 2010 by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Geological Survey with support from private land owners. Scouring keys and riffles were added to mimic the natural flow pattern that had been lost over decades of bank erosion and sedimentation. “That changed the turbulence regime— less still water and more turbulence,” said Maia. “More turbulence of any kind is good because you get more oxygen, more mixing—it’s positive. “But not all turbulence is equal.” With the funding they received from the Illinois Water Resources Center to support the final two years of the study, Maia and Favata examined the effects of turbulence on longear sunfish—a common stream species that plays an important role in the health of Kickapoo Creek—and discovered their response varies by the direction of movement. “You can think of a fan as provoking stream-wide turbulence,” explained Maia. “But if you have boulders, you’re getting horizontal turbulence. And if you have a flap going up and down underwater, you have vertical turbulence.” When they exposed longear sunfish to a range of conditions in the lab, the researchers saw a surge in oxygen consumption linked to horizontal turbulence—similar to what happens to people running into a headwind. The physiological impact wasn’t significant enough to suppress the longear population in Kickapoo Creek. In fact, their overall numbers went up in the years following the rehabilitation. But the new turbulence regime did alter their behavior as the fish searched for areas with calmer water and deeper pools. The finding highlights the importance of designing instream rehabilitation to include the preferred regimes of sensitive species. “The presence of species that are less tolerant is what’s going to be a good measure of restoration success and a sustainable habitat,” added Maia. Yet, perhaps the most important outcome of the study, Maia emphasized, is that it demonstrates the importance of monitoring restored sites long term. “The effects of restoration might not be visible right away. The habitat, most significantly the fish, recovered four years after restoration. It might be at least five years before we can actually say strongly that trends are the result of restoration.” “The presence of species that are less tolerant is ... a good measure of restoration success and a sustainable habitat” —ANABELA MAIA, INSTRUCTOR AT EASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY 2 ILLINOIS WATER / 2017

A look back at the Illinois Water Conference Researchers, agency personnel and students from across Illinois came together at the 15th biennial Illinois Water Conference to discuss the latest research on issues affecting the state’s water resources and systems. Hosted by the Illinois Water Resources Center, the two-day event featured an introduction from U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Earl Greene, a panel discussion on large-scale monitoring programs in the state, a student poster session and tours as well as technical sessions on key issues such as nutrient loss reduction, water supply planning and aquatic invasive species. The 2016 Illinois Water Conference was sponsored by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, the USGS Illinois Water Science Center, the Illinois Water Authority Association, and the Environmental Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering program in the University of Illinois Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. ILLINOIS WATER / 2017 3

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