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Keywords:

  • ecology;
  • geomorphology;
  • hydrology;
  • hydromorphology;
  • rivers;
  • Water Framework Directive

Abstract

  • 1.
    The assessment of links between ecology and physical habitat has become a major issue in river research and management. Key drivers include concerns about the conservation implications of human modifications (e.g. abstraction, climate change) and the explicit need to understand the ecological importance of hydromorphology as prescribed by the EU's Water Framework Directive. Efforts are focusing on the need to develop ‘eco-hydromorphology’ at the interface between ecology, hydrology and fluvial geomorphology. Here, the scope of this emerging field is defined, some research and development issues are suggested, and a path for development is sketched out.
  • 2.
    In the short term, major research priorities are to use existing literature or data better to identify patterns among organisms, ecological functions and river hydromorphological character. Another early priority is to identify model systems or organisms to act as research foci. In the medium term, the investigation of pattern–processes linkages, spatial structuring, scaling relationships and system dynamics will advance mechanistic understanding. The effects of climate change, abstraction and river regulation, eco-hydromorphic resistance/resilience, and responses to environmental disturbances are likely to be management priorities. Large-scale catchment projects, in both rural and urban locations, should be promoted to concentrate collaborative efforts, to attract financial support and to raise the profile of eco-hydromorphology.
  • 3.
    Eco-hydromorphological expertise is currently fragmented across the main contributory disciplines (ecology, hydrology, geomorphology, flood risk management, civil engineering), potentially restricting research and development. This is paradoxical given the shared vision across these fields for effective river management based on good science with social impact. A range of approaches is advocated to build sufficient, integrated capacity that will deliver science of real management value over the coming decades.

Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.