Projecting impacts of climate change on habitat availability in a macrophyte dominated chalk river

House, A.R.; Thompson, J.R.; Roberts, C.; de Smeth, K.; Old, G. ORCID:; Acreman, M.C.. 2017 Projecting impacts of climate change on habitat availability in a macrophyte dominated chalk river. Ecohydrology, 10 (4), e1823. 13, pp.

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Climate change will impact fluvial ecosystems through changes in the flow regime. Physical habitat is an established measure of a river's ecological status when assessing changes to flow. Yet, it requires extensive datasets, is site specific, and does not account for dynamic processes; shortcomings that the use of hydrological and hydraulic models may alleviate. Here, simulated flows along a 600 m reach of the River Lambourn, Boxford, UK, were extracted from the 1D MIKE 11 hydraulic component of an integrated MIKE SHE model of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology River Lambourn Observatory. In-channel seasonal macrophyte growth and management through cutting alter water levels, represented in the hydraulic model by manipulating channel bed roughness (Manning's n). Assessment of climate change used outputs from the UK Climate Projections 2009 ensemble of global climate models for the 2080s. River discharge outputs were disaggregated to provide velocity and depth profiles across 41 cross sections along the reach. These were integrated with habitat suitability criteria for brown trout (Salmo trutta) to generate a measure of available physical habitat. The influence of macrophyte growth caused the habitat-discharge relationship to be unusable in evaluating the sensitivity of brown trout to flow changes. Instead, projected time series were used to show an overall reduction in habitat availability, more for adult than juvenile trout. Results highlighted the impact of weed cutting, and its potential role in mitigating both flood risk and the ecological impacts of climate change. The use of a hydraulic model to assess physical habitat availability has worldwide applicability.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Acreman
ISSN: 1936-0584
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: climate change, ecohydrology, hydrological and hydraulic modelling, physical habitat, river management
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Meteorology and Climatology
Date made live: 03 Apr 2017 09:56 +0 (UTC)

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