Modelling ecological flow regime: an example from the Tennessee and Cumberland River basins



Predictive equations were developed for 19 ecologically relevant streamflow characteristics within five major groups of flow variables (magnitude, ratio, frequency, variability, and date) for use in the Tennessee and Cumberland River basins using stepbackward regression. Basin characteristics explain 50% or more of the variation for 12 of the 19 equations. Independent variables identified through stepbackward regression were statistically significant in 78 of 304 cases (α > 0.0001) and represent four major groups: climate, physical landscape features, regional indicators, and land use. Of these groups, the regional and climate variables were the most influential for determining hydrologic response. Daily temperature range, geologic factor, and rock depth were major factors explaining the variability in 17, 15, and 13 equations, respectively. The equations and independent datasets were used to explore the broad relation between basin properties and streamflow and the implication of streamflow to the study of ecological flow requirements. Key results include a high degree of hydrologic variability among least disturbed Blue Ridge streams, similar hydrologic behaviour for watersheds with widely varying degrees of forest cover, and distinct hydrologic profiles for streams in different geographic regions. Published in 2011. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.