Jacobson R.B.,U.S. Geological Survey |
Janke T.P.,Missouri River Program |
Skold J.J.,Missouri River Program
Wetlands Ecology and Management | Year: 2011
Planning for restoration of river-floodplain systems requires understanding how often and how much of a floodplain may be inundated, and how likely the floodplain is to retain the water once flooded. These factors depend fundamentally on hydrology and geomorphology of the channel and floodplain. We discuss application of an index of river-floodplain connectivity, the Land Capability Potential Index (LCPI), to regional-scale restoration planning along 600 km of the Lower Missouri River. The LCPI integrates modeled water-surface elevations, floodplain topography, and soils to index relative wetness of floodplain patches. Geomorphic adjustment of the Lower Missouri River to impoundment and channel engineering has altered the natural relations among hydrology, geomorphology, and floodplain soils, and has resulted in a regional upstream to downstream gradient in connectivity potential. As a result, flow-regime management is limited in its capacity to restore floodplain ecosystems. The LCPI provides a tool for identifying and mapping floodplain restoration potential, accounting for the geomorphic adjustment. Using simple criteria, we illustrate the utility of LCPI-like approaches in regional planning for restoration of plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides) communities, hydrologically connected floodplain wetlands, and seasonal floodplain wetlands. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.