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A watershed is defined by natural topographic boundaries and —depending on where they are located— might encompass complex forest ecosystems, highly urbanized landscapes, or elements of both. Watershed processes can be broken down into specific functions and characteristics, including: soil processes and erosion, nutrient cycling, pollution transport, riparian habitat and stream buffers, stream morphology and channel characteristics, hydrology, and water quality. To learn more about how scientists are addressing complex issues involving water resources and climate change, please see the presentations given at the Western Watersheds and Climate Change: Water and Aquatic System Tools workshop.
Scientists at AWAE examine surface water, water quality, wetlands, and habitat use. These characteristics serve as useful indicators of the overall health of a watershed. AWAE scientists actively involved in this research include: