Developing a shared understanding of the Upper Mississippi River: the foundation of an ecological resilience assessment

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.

Contact: Kristen Bouska

Project Dates: 2018

Keywords: Controlling variable; historical changes; large floodplain river