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Downstream effects of stream flow diversion on channel characteristics and riparian vegetation in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, USA

Posted date: March 04, 2015
Publication Year: 
2015
Authors: Caskey, Simeon T.; Blaschak, Tyanna S.; Wohl, Ellen; Schnackenberg, Elizabeth; Merritt, David M.; Dwire, Kathleen A.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 40: 586-598.

Abstract

Flow diversions are widespread and numerous throughout the semi-arid mountains of the western United States. Diversions vary greatly in their structure and ability to divert water, but can alter the magnitude and duration of base and peak flows, depending upon their size and management. Channel geometry and riparian plant communities have adapted to unique hydrologic and geomorphic conditions existing in the areas subject to fluvial processes. We use geomorphic and vegetation data from low-gradient (¡Ü3%) streams in the Rocky Mountains of north-central Colorado to assess potential effects of diversion. Data were collected at 37 reaches, including 16 paired upstream and downstream reaches and five unpaired reaches. Channel geometry data were derived from surveys of bankfull channel dimensions and substrate. Vegetation was sampled using a line-point intercept method along transects oriented perpendicular to the channel, with a total of 100 sampling points per reach. Elevation above and distance from the channel were measured at each vegetation sampling point to analyze differences in lateral and vertical zonation of plant communities between upstream and downstream reaches.

Citation

Caskey, Simeon T.; Blaschak, Tyanna S.; Wohl, Ellen; Schnackenberg, Elizabeth; Merritt, David M.; Dwire, Kathleen A. 2015. Downstream effects of stream flow diversion on channel characteristics and riparian vegetation in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, USA. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 40: 586-598.