Many of the most critical riverine aquatic ecosystems under Forest Service management occur in high elevation wet meadows. These streams and riparian areas are often host to threatened and/or endangered species. The wet meadow ecosystems are at high risk from climate changes, wildfires, and water diversions.
A typical wet meadow in the upper Middle Fork Salmon River, Idaho is the site of several prior and current investigations of stream ecosystem dynamics. Research topics include:
This research had contributed to better understanding of these critical high elevation ecosystems by developing and using objective, repeatable, and process-based techniques of analysis.
New techniques have been developed to map stream bathymetry and model flow conditions throughout meadow systems. A free GIS software toolkit, the River Bathymetry Toolkit, has been developed to automatically map and graph many of the important stream attributes using high resolution stream bathymetry. These tools allow managers to consider stream ecosystem function at scales ranging from meters to tens-of-kilometers.