Creation of statewide framework for ecological limits of hydrologic alteration based on aquatic community classification
July 2021 - June 2023
- Missouri Department of Conservation
In Missouri, development of flow-ecology relationships has been an iterative process, whereby workshops, discussions and exploratory analysis have directed the process for developing flow ecology relationships. We conducted a variety of analyses to characterize individual indicator datasets, evaluate potential relationships between flows and fish responses, identify data gaps, and prioritize field sampling. This work identified lack of stream flow data as a limitation to developing quantitative relationships. Flow estimates for individual stream segments are derived from drainage-area based regression equations for the group and adjusted for the effects of springflow and losing streams (a stream or stream reach that water flows from the streambed into the ground-water system). Our proposed flow-based classification is designed to be integrated into an ELOHA framework (Figure 1) for Missouri streams that provides a scientific foundation for informed water-use decisions specific to species or guilds and the entire fish community. Our model will leverage ongoing and recent efforts including the RAM program data to characterize the structure of fish assemblages in different types of Missouri streams based on catchment size, predicted flow, and temperature. Our flow-based classification is an important step that addresses a MDC strategic action: Support the creation of a statewide framework for ecological limits of hydrologic alteration based on aquatic community classification by the end of FY23. The goal of this project is to provide the scientific foundation for ecological flow assessments to inform internal decision making and enhance the Department’s ability to advocate for water resources within the context of interagency efforts on site-specific projects or any future partner initiated effort to establish environmental flow standards.