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Individual Highlight

River Food Webs are an Important Consideration for River Restoration

Photo of The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Pete Bisson, USDA Forest ServiceThe Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Pete Bisson, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : The current emphasis on restoring habitat structure, without explicitly considering food webs, has been less successful than hoped in terms of enhancing the status of targeted species.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Bisson, Pete 
Research Location : Washington; Oregon
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2013
Highlight ID : 529


Well-functioning food webs are fundamental for sustaining rivers as ecosystems and maintaining associated aquatic and terrestrial communities. As an illustration, scientists examined how the Columbia River Basin, site of one of the largest aquatic-riparian restoration programs in the United States, would benefit from implementing a food web perspective. This complements ongoing approaches and enhance the ability to meet the vision and legal obligations of the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the Northwest Power Act (Fish and Wildlife Program), and federal treaties with Northwest Indian Tribes while meeting fundamental needs for improved river management. Based on a variety of reviews, meetings, workshops, site visits, and other feedback, the scientific underpinnings of many habitat restoration efforts in the Columbia River Basin have been improved. Most notably, this effort increased attention to monitoring and evaluating restoration projects so that habitat managers can learn from their experiences and pass this information along to other practitioners. This report was used by the Bonneville Power Administration as well as federal, state, tribal, and non-governmental organizations to help identify habitat restoration opportunities where food web improvements could be implemented, and to make improvements in existing projects and programs.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Bonneville Power Administration
  • Columbia River Intertribal Fisheries Commission
  • NOAA Fisheries
  • Northwest Power and Conservation Council

Program Areas