The flood pulse advantage and the restoration of river-floodplain systems



The ‘flood pulse advantage’ is the amount by which fish yield per unit mean water area is increased by a natural, predictable flood pulse. Evidence for this increase is presented from tropical and temperate fisheries. It is argued that increasing multispecies fish yield by restoring the natural hydrological regime is consistent with increasing production of other trophic levels and with restoration from ecological and aesthetic viewpoints. When applied to a river-floodplain system, this restoration would provide a large, self-sustaining potential for recreation, commercial exploitation, and flood control. An interim ‘natural flood pulse’ restoration approach is proposed for systems modified for navigation. This approach approximates the natural hydrological regime in a river reach and is intended as a first step in the long process of restoring the watershed.