Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey
I am currently working collaboratively to assess the ecological resilience of the Upper Mississippi River System. This work includes an evaluation of controlling variables and the development of system-wide indicators of resilience derived from long-term datasets. The motivation behind this work is to better understand how management and restoration actions can be strategically applied to influence the long-term resilience of the system.
Key research Interests: large floodplain river ecology, watershed science, ecological resilience
In support of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) partnership, we have been working towards an ecological resilience assessment of the system. Our first manuscript provides the foundation for our assessment, as well as an overview of historical changes and ecological understanding of the river. Working with UMRR agencies, we conceptualized the river-floodplain system as three interconnected sub-systems: lotic channels, lentic off-channel areas, and floodplains. From there, we identified controlling variables that affect major resources within each sub-system, and described those relationships as they are known. The system description provides a framework as we continue on to the assessing phase of our assessment to better understand how controlling variables influence major resources, relying on long-term spatially extensive data sets. There is growing interest in applying resilience concepts to natural resource management; however, there are few published applications of these frameworks from which to learn. We hope the UMRS resilience assessment can provide insight to others on our approach while also improving our understanding of the Upper Mississippi River System's ability to adapt to change.