The Ecological Limits of Hydrological Alteration (ELOHA) framework calls for the development of flow-ecology hypotheses to support protection of the flow regime from ecologically harmful alteration due to human activities. As part of a larger instream flow project for the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GCP LCC), regional flow-ecology hypotheses were developed for fish, mussels, birds, and riparian vegetation (Davis and Brewer 20141). The objective of this study was to assess the usefulness of existing ecological and hydrological data to test these hypotheses or others that may be developed in the future. Several databases related to biological collections and hydrologic data from Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana were compiled. State fish-community data from Oklahoma and Louisiana were summarized and paired with existing USGS gage data having at least a 40-year period of record that could be separated into reference and current conditions for comparison. The objective of this study was not to conduct exhaustive analyses of these data, the hypotheses, or analyses interpretation, but rather to use these data to determine if existing data were adequate to statistically test the regional flow-ecology hypotheses. The regional flow-ecology hypotheses were developed for the GCP LCC by a committee chaired by Shannon Brewer and Mary Davis (Davis and Brewer 2014). Existing data were useful for informing the hypotheses and suggest support for some hypotheses, but also highlight the need for additional testing and development as some results contradicted hypotheses. Results presented here suggest existing data are adequate to support some flow-ecology hypotheses; however, lack of sampling effort reported with the fish collections and the need for ecoregion-specific analyses suggest more data would be beneficial to analyses in some ecoregions. Additional fish sampling data from Texas and Louisiana will be available for future analyses and may ameliorate some of the data concerns and improve hypothesis interpretation. If the regional hydrologic model currently under development by the U.S. Geological Survey for the South-Central Climate Science Center is improved to produce daily hydrographs, it will enable use of fish data at ungaged locations. In future efforts, exhaustive analyses using these data, in addition to the development of more complex multivariate hypotheses, would be beneficial to understanding data gaps, particularly as relevant to species of conservation concern.1
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