The Current Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 63

New Era of Dam Removal cont'd from page 23

O’connor et al. (2015) point out that the vast majority of studies on dam removal are of short duration and rarely examine the interactions between physical change and biological response. Further, most dam removal projects have been conducted on small dams (<20 ft.) and the benefits and potential consequences of large dam removal efforts will be significantly amplified (from both an ecological and societal perspective). This suggests that scientifically documenting and understanding ecosystem function prior to dam removal is critical, that ecological context is important, and that interdisciplinary science linking physical system change to biological response is paramount. River ecosystems are incredibly dynamic and the science behind dam removal is developing, but still young. As such, it’s imperative that the ecological response of rivers be treated experimentally and the results disseminated widely. As the science associated with dam removal improves, so, too, will our understanding of the processes associated with ecosystem recovery.

Dr. Lusardi is the California Trout-UC Davis Wild and Coldwater Fish Scientist

O’connor et al. (2015) first appeared in the May issue of Science Magazine.

O’connor, JE, Duda, JJ, and GE Grant. 2015. 1000 dams down and counting. Science 348 (6234): 496-497.

Partner Profile continued from page 27

The Santa Clara River Steelhead Coalition, led by Meneghin, also includes The Nature Conservancy, Friends of the Santa Clara River, Stillwater Sciences and other partners in applying a landscape-level approach to watershed restoration based on understanding the nature of geomorphic and ecological regulation of ecosystem processes critical to restoration success. Tributary streams, such as Sespe and Piru Creeks, also receive conservation attention from the RIVRLab and its partners, where we particularly focus on the development of biological control or ‘biocontrol’, the intentional introduction of specialist natural enemies to suppress noxious invasive plant and animal species. Biocontrol is now used regionally for management of invasive tamarisk (aka saltcedar; Tamarix spp.) with a Eurasian leaf beetle, Diorhabda carinulata. We are also investigating potential control of New Zealand mud snails (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) using a highly specialized trematode parasite also from New Zealand that ‘castrates’ this recently introduced snail that trout can ingest but not digest because it passes intact through the gut. With luck we may soon be able to reduce Arundo infestations non-intrusively with specialist insects but, for now, we must apply conventional mechanical and chemical means for control.

Expanding from the micro- to the macro-scale, we recently acquired plane-based LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) imagery for the full Santa Clara floodplain in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. LiDAR will provide detailed topographical characterization of substrates and vegetation for aquatic and riparian wildlife. Other new programs are based on satellite imagery, applied by USGS cooperator Jim Hatten and UCSB geographer Dar Roberts. When these systems are integrated, we will have one of the most detailed and multi-disciplinary watershed conservation programs in the country for planning and implementing restoration measures for species protection and sustaining ecosystem function, particularly in the context of southern California urbanization in a globally changing climate. CalTrout and UCSB secured a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2016 to formalize future research collaborations.

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