Fate of lower Mississippi river habitats associated with river training dikes

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Abstract

  • 1Regions of reduced velocity adjacent to spur dikes along the Lower Mississippi River are valuable aquatic habitats. Similar zones along other large rivers have been converted to terrestrial habitats by sediment deposition.
  • 2Repetitive hydrographic surveys of 26 representative groups of dikes are examined to determine the direction and rates of change.
  • 3Since the dikes were constructed, the aquatic volume and area of associated low-velocity habitats have been reduced by 38% and 17%, respectively. Examination of time series shows that most changes occur shortly after construction, and after initial adjustment, habitat area and volume fluctuate about a condition of dynamic equilibrium.
  • 4Sedimentation rates were most rapid for dike fields constructed on the inside of bends to prevent chute development. Dike fields built to force or maintain thalweg crossings exhibited erosion rather than deposition.

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