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Monitoring the effectiveness of floodplain habitat restoration: A review of methods and recommendations for future monitoring

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Abstract Floodplains are some of the most ecologically important and human‐impacted habitats throughout the world. Large efforts are underway in North America, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere to restore floodplain habitats, not only to increase fish and aquatic biota but to restore ecological diversity. As the scale, number, and complexity of floodplain restoration projects has increased, so has the need for rigorous monitoring and evaluation to demonstrate effectiveness and guide future floodplain restoration efforts. Moreover, technological advances in remote sensing, genetics, and fish marking have been evolving rapidly and there is need to update guidance on the best methods for monitoring physical and biological response to floodplain restoration. A comprehensive review of the restoration literature located 180 papers that specifically examined the effectiveness of various floodplain restoration techniques. The various methods that were historically and currently used to evaluate the physical (channel and floodplain morphology, sediment, flow, water quality [temperature and nutrients]) and biological (fish, invertebrates, and aquatic and riparian plants) effectiveness of floodplain restoration were reviewed and used to provide recommendations for future monitoring. For each major physical and biological monitoring method, we discuss their importance, how they have historically been used to evaluate floodplain restoration, newer methodologies, and limitations or advantages of different methodologies and approaches. We then discuss monitoring the effectiveness of small (<2 km in main channel length) and large (>2 km of main channel length) floodplain projects, with recommendations for various study designs, parameters, and monitoring methodologies. This article is categorized under: Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness Water and Life > Methods
Middle Entiat River Restoration Project is an example of large floodplain restoration projects that have become more and more common in many areas in the United States. The goals of the project are broad and include floodplain reconnection, reconnection of relic side‐channels and alcoves; increase lateral channel migration, bedform diversity, pools, log jams, instream cover, riparian function, and increase winter rearing habitat for endangered salmonids. Current monitoring focuses primarily on compliance monitoring of structural treatments (wood and side channels) although the project area has been proposed as a pilot to examine broad‐scale approaches to monitoring effectiveness of large floodplain restoration efforts. Restoration is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2019
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Example of remote sensing to examine vegetation. (a) Changes before and after restoration using aerial photos with field surveys (Reprinted with permission from Nakamura et al., . Copyright 2014 Wiley). (b) Example of vegetation community classification using unmanned aerial vehicle acquired true and false color orthophotos (Reprinted with permission from van Iersel, Straatsma, Middelkoop, and Addink (). Copyright 2018 MDPI)
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Example of fine scale and resolution temperature mapping using a real‐time kinematic (RTK) unit with a temperature probe. Top image shows data points collected. Bottom image shows interpolation of bottom temperatures (From Clark et al., )
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Example of mapping of geomorphic units using remote sensing combined with a field survey. CF, riffle; CP, pool; EC, mid‐channel bar; EA, bank‐attached bar; EAh, bank‐attached high bar; ED, dry channel; EK, unvegetated bank; VI, island, VB, bench; FF, modern floodplain; FT, recent terrace. (Reprinted with permission from Rinaldi et al. (). Copyright 2017 Elsevier)
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Example of delineation of large wood accumulations using aerial imagery. Figure courtesy of Oleksandr Stefankiv, National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration
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Example of a topographic survey output showing water depth distribution at bankfull flow before and after floodplain restoration for Catherine Creek, Oregon. Topographic data courtesy of Bonneville Power Administration and Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
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Example of bathymetric LiDAR used to map bathymetry of a restored river reach (Campana et al., )
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Published literature evaluating floodplain restoration effectiveness. Of the 180 studies located, most looked at a physical (131 studies) and or biological metrics (153 studies)
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