Cover for circ1175--photograph  left a bubbling stream in the Cascade Mountains which has high-gradient, coarse-bedded streams. Photograph right: A number of trees that are in the Chickahominy River in the Coastal Plain of virginia which is a low-gradient, sand-bed stream.

Land-Use Changes and the Physical Habitat of Streams—A Review with Emphasis on Studies within the U.S. Geological Survey Federal-State Cooperative Program

Circular 1175

By Robert B. Jacobson, Suzanne R. Femmer, and Rose A. McKenney

The full report is available in pdf.  Links to the pdf.




The Federal-State Cooperative Program and Physical Stream Habitat Investigations

Factors Affecting Physical Stream Habitat

Definition and Classification of Physical Stream Habitat

Abiotic and Biotic Factors Affecting Habitat Use

Formation and Stability of Physical Stream Habitat

Channel Morphology and Stream Habitat

Channel Equilibrium and Stream Habitat

Channel Disturbance and Adjustment

Habitat Disturbance

Land-Use Induced Disturbance of Physical Stream Habitat

Upland Land-Use Changes

Riparian Land-Use Changes

Investigating the Links Between Land Use and Physical Stream-Habitat Changes

Historical Approaches

Associative Approaches to Land Use—Habitat Links

Associations for Assessing Habitat Availability

Associations for Water-Quality and Environmental Assessments

Process Studies of Land Use—Habitat Links

Modeling Links between Land Use and Physical Stream Habitat

Basin-Scale Models

Channel-Scale Models

Land-Use Changes and the Physical Habitat of Streams

Selected References

Special Sections: Multidisciplinary USGS Cooperative Studies of the Links Between Land Use and Physical Stream-Habitat Changes

Hydrologic Disturbance in an Agricultural-Urban Basin—Big Darby Creek, Ohio

Geomorphic Instability and Sediment Loads—Wisconsin

Water Withdrawals and Maintenance of Floodplain Ecosystems—Florida

Habitat in Channelized Streams—Tennessee

Riparian Vegetation and Maintenance of Physical Habitats—Missouri

Establishing Land-Use History and Habitat Links—Missouri

Land-Use Characteristics and Aquatic Community Structure—Ozark Plateaus NAWQA Study Unit

Mill Creek Cattle Exclosure Study—Pennsylvania

Measuring the Effect of Boat Wakes on Bank Erosion and Salmon Habitat—Alaska

Climate Change Effects on Sediment and Streamflow—Colorado

Minimum Instream Flow Modeling—Virginia and Washington


Understanding the links between land-use changes and physical stream habitat responses is of increasing importance to guide resource management and stream restoration strategies. Transmission of runoff and sediment to streams can involve complex responses of drainage basins, including time lags, thresholds, and cumulative effects. Land-use induced runoff and sediment yield often combine with channel-scale disturbances that decrease flow resistance and erosion resistance, or increase stream energy. The net effects of these interactions on physical stream habitat—depth, velocity, substrate, cover, and temperature—are a challenge to predict. Improved diagnosis and predictive understanding of future change usually require multifaceted, multi-scale, and multidisciplinary studies based on a firm understanding of the history and processes operating in a drainage basin. The U.S. Geological Survey Federal-State Cooperative Program has been instrumental in fostering studies of the links between land use and stream habitat nationwide.


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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Last modified: Wednesday, November 23 2016, 12:17:03 PM
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