3 years ago

Why experiment with success? Opportunities and risks in applying assessment and adaptive management to the Emiquon floodplain restoration project

Heath M. Hagy, Andrew F. Casper, Luzia Cleide Rodrigues, Michael J. Lemke, Luiz Felipe Machado Velho, K. Douglas Blodgett, Richard E. Sparks


The Nature Conservancy’s wetland restoration at the Emiquon Preserve has been a success to date, but there are warning signs of undesirable change if left unmanaged. A water control structure built in 2016 will increase management capabilities, but periodic connection to the river, which has experienced human alterations typical of rivers in eastern North America and Europe, also introduces risks. The Conservancy’s planning process has identified (1) management targets (e.g., diverse native fish populations); (2) Key Ecological Attributes (KEAs) that maintain the targets (e.g., relatively deep over-wintering habitats for fishes); (3) measurable indicators for the KEAs (e.g., depth in winter); and (4) desirable ranges for the indicators (e.g., 10% of the aquatic area has depths of 2–3 m and dissolved oxygen levels of 4–6 mg/l). Assessments and experiments completed to date have focused on documenting the restoration, evaluating effects of the record flood of 2013, and predicting outcomes of management actions. Simulation models of hydrology, hydraulics, and vegetation response developed during the planning process allayed some concerns of stakeholders, but not all outcomes are predictable from either current theory or management experience. Therefore, each action can be considered not only as an adaptive management experiment focused on sustaining targets, but also contributing to ecological theory and restoration practice on a broader scale.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10750-016-2785-8

DOI: 10.1007/s10750-016-2785-8

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