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Rehabilitation of an Incised Stream Using Plant Materials: the Dominance of Geomorphic Processes

F. Douglas Shields, Jr., USDA ARS National Sedimentation Laboratory
S. Reza Pezeshki, University of Memphis
Glen V. Wilson, USDA ARS National Sedimentation Laboratory
Weiming Wu, University of Mississippi National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering
Seth M. Dabney, USDA ARS National Sedimentation Laboratory


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The restoration of potentially species-rich stream ecosystems in physically unstable environments is challenging, and few attempts have been evaluated scientifically. Restoration approaches that involve living and dead native vegetation are attractive economically and from an ecological standpoint. A 2-km reach of an incised, sand-bed stream in northern Mississippi was treated with large wood structures and willow plantings to trigger responses that would result in increasing similarity with a lightly degraded reference stream. Experimental approaches for stream bank and gully stabilization were also examined. Although the project was initially successful in producing improved aquatic habitat, after 4 yr it had failed to effectively address issues related to flashy watershed hydrology and physical instability manifest by erosion and sedimentation. The success of ecosystem rehabilitation was thus governed by landscape-scale hydrological and geomorphological processes.

Key words

biotechnical stabilization; erosion; fish community structure; gullies; large wood; physical aquatic habitat; stream restoration; willows

Copyright © 2008 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087