• freshwater conservation;
  • stream analysis;
  • streamside conditions;
  • fish distribution;
  • spatial extent;
  • spatial position;
  • spatial resolution;
  • cartographic scale


  • 1.
    Digital hydrographic data are commonly employed in research, planning, and monitoring for freshwater conservation, but hydrographic datasets differ in spatial resolution and accuracy of spatial representation, possibly leading to inaccurate conclusions or unsuitable policies for streams and streamside areas.
  • 2.
    To examine and illustrate the potential for different hydrographic datasets to influence in-channel and streamside characterizations, a study area in the US Pacific Northwest was chosen because 1:100 000, 1:24 000, and densified 1:24 000 hydrography are available and widely used in research and management for several species of Pacific salmon and trout at risk. The potential was examined for differences among the digital hydrographic datasets in: (1) spatial extent to influence estimated abundances of fish habitat, streamside buffer conditions, and fish distributions; and (2) spatial position to influence estimated streamside buffer conditions and estimated stream gradient.
  • 3.
    The analysis of spatial extent found the total stream length represented by the 1:100 000 hydrography was approximately one half that of 1:24 000 hydrography and only one fifth that of densified 1:24 000 hydrography. The 1:100 000 and 1:24 000 networks differed significantly for 13 out of 18 fish habitat attributes, and the three hydrographic datasets differed significantly for many characteristics in streamside buffers; fish distributions mapped at 1:24 000 added 6–14% of stream length to 1:100 000 distributions. The analysis of spatial position found few differences between the 1:100 000 and 1:24 000 hydrography in streamside buffer characteristics but significant differences in channel gradient.
  • 4.
    Overall, hydrographic datasets differed only slightly in spatial position but differed in spatial extent to the point of representing different populations of streams. If species inhabiting larger streams (greater mean annual discharge) are of interest, then results derived from studies based on 1:100 000 hydrography should prove useful. However, higher-resolution hydrography can be critical when designing and implementing strategies to protect fish and other aquatic species at risk in smaller streams.

Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.