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ECOLOGY AND GEOMORPHOLOGY OF STREAMS: THE SKEENA RIVER STUDY Salmonid & Aquatic Invertebrate Habitat in Tributary Confluences, Skeena River, British Columbia Edited By: A.K. Fremier, J.M. Mount, P.B. Moyle, and S.M.Yarnell FINAL REPORT SEPTEMBER 1, 2004
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Course Rationale The field of watershed science, and specifically the study of streams, is inherently multidisciplinary, involving a broad array of physical, biological and social sciences. Traditional hierarchical undergraduate and graduate education programs to train students in the fields that support watershed science typically emphasize in-depth study within a specific discipline. This focused education is vital to producing professionals with useful technical and analytical skills. However, most students who pursue careers in watershed and stream analysis rarely work solely within their discipline. Rather, their work is inevitably integrated with that of other professionals addressing related issues with different skill sets. The ability to work closely and collaboratively with professionals from different backgrounds is fundamental to success in the field of watershed science. This course introduced advanced undergraduate and graduate students to multidisciplinary collaborative watershed and stream analysis through combined laboratory and field study. Students from diverse backgrounds worked in cooperative research teams to collect and analyze field data from the Skeena River watershed (British Columbia), one of the largest un-dammed rivers in North America (Dynesius and Nilsson 1994). These teams used field collected data to analyze geomorphic processes and test ecological hypotheses related to the patterns of aquatic macroinvertebrate and salmonid diversity in tributaries to the Skeena River. Executive Summary Surveys of the downstream portions of tributaries to the Skeena River focused on the geomorphological and biological importance of stream confluences. Our key observations are listed below: Tributary Inputs: Tributaries have a significant influence on the mainstem through input of sediment, coarse material, and large woody debris. These inputs directly affected the local geomorphology of not only each tributary but, in many cases, that of the mainstem channel. These inputs also influenced the spatial patterns of macroinvertebrates and salmonids. The upstream character of each tributary had a large impact on the character of the confluence. Tributary Fans: A fan-shape deposit of river bed material forms at the tributary’s confluence with the mainstem. This tributary fan was delineated at the mainstem’s high water mark where sediment size and channel character (confined versus unconfined) changed abruptly. Fan dimensions were proportional to the mainstem channel width and stage-discharge relationships.
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This note was uploaded on 01/31/2011 for the course GEL 1 taught by Professor Barfod during the Spring '08 term at UC Davis.

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