I propose to investigate the mechanisms of resilience for invertebrates
that inhabit submerged wood in a free flowing medium-sized river. Specifically,
I intend to look at how invertebrate drift, reproduction, and aestivation
contribute to recovery of this community after a drying disturbance
due to the natural rise and fall of the hydrograph. The overall contribution
of this recovery to annual community production will be closely examined.
These facets will be evaluated through season and against the intensity
and duration of disturbance. The main objective is to provide a general
model of recovery in a free-flowing system.
The research will include several field and laboratory experiments
as well as field measurements of invertebrate drift. The success of
this research is dependent on real-time monitoring of the hydrograph
and a quick response time to any changes in discharge. The research
experiments will be carried out over one year. Results from the proposed
study will be valuable for river management and restoration of flow
regime in other rivers.
Poster, North American Benthological Society, 2003 (in PowerPoint)
"Quantification of Habitat for Snag-dwelling Invertebrates: Incorporation into a Dynamic Model"
The Sipsey River is found in the western portion of the state of Alabama
in the Coastal Plain region. The Sipsey is a fifth order stream and
can be described as a medium size river. It is a tributary of the Tombigbee
River in the Mobile River system and runs completely unregulated for
approximately 184 km before its confluence (McGregor and O'Neil 1992).
The long and narrow catchment area of the Sipsey River basin is about
2043 km2. Discharge of this river is highly variable ranging from 2.5
m3/s to 566 m3/s. The mean annual discharge is about 25 m3/s. Discharge
is highly correlated with precipitation events and appears to have a
two-day lag time behind storms. Water levels can rise as much as a meter
in one day from the effects of a single storm, but the rise is steady
and not flashy. Precipitation in this area is evenly distributed throughout
the year with approximately 142 cm/y. This continual precipitation throughout
the year causes water levels to change constantly. Currents tend to
be slow to moderate. Water spills over the channel bank into the floodplain
at discharges exceeding 56 m3/s. The Sipsey has an extensive forested
floodplain with a width of 1-3 km which floods most years in the winter
for a few months when evapotranspiration is low and the response of
river stage is high, but has been observed to flood in all seasons of
the year. The floodplain is a mosaic of pools, sloughs and oxbow lakes.
Channel substrate consists mostly of loose sand, some gravel beds and
clay. Wood is the most stable substrate found in the channel and is
abundant as has been found in other Coastal Plain rivers (see Wallace
and Benke 1984).
The state of Alabama purchased a large plot of land (ca. 1,214 ha)
immediately south of the USGS river gauging station, "Sipsey at
Elrod-02446500", as part of the Alabama Forever Wild program. The
land sits on the eastern side of the Sipsey and covers a large portion
of the floodplain. This portion of the river will serve as the study
site. This site is ideal because it provides us with access to the river,
a relatively undisturbed portion of the river, and the USGS river gauging
station immediately upstream. Data from the gauging station (e.g. discharge
and river stage) can be obtained as real-time data via the internet
on the USGS site (http://water.usgs.gov).
Historical data from the gauging station is available from the same
internet site for 57-y period of record. The study site is 31 km from
the University of Alabama and the gauging station is essential for us
to be able to respond to changes in the hydrograph.
- What is the depth-specific community composition and secondary production
per area river bottom? If a pattern is found, can this pattern be
related to the resilience of the community?
- What is the colonization potential and pattern of colonization over
the course of a flooding event?
- What is the pattern and composition of drift over the course of
a flooding event?
- What species are able to persist long-term through the desiccatioon
period without leaving the wood and how does the recovery potential
change with increasing duration of desiccation time?
- What are the evacuation rates and assemblage composition as wood
is exposed for organisms with no adaptation to persist long-term during
- What is the colonization potential of wood from eggs laid on desiccated