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Abstract

When the Kissimmee River was channelized in the 1960s and 1970s and placed under stage-fluctuation management, the dynamic interactions between the river and the flood-plain were essentially removed. Correspondingly, aquatic invertebrate life in the river and floodplain ecosystem shifted from a riverine to a more lacustrine fauna. A relinkage of the Kissimmee River with the floodplain following restoration will result in numerous changes to such ecologically important factors as streamflow, substrate composition, food quality and quantity, and water quality, all of which will influence invertebrate communities. These factors and their function in the ecosystem as the fauna shifts from predominantly lacustrine back to riverine are presented in a conceptual model. As an integral component of all aquatic ecosystems and a key link between primary producers and higher trophic levels, aquatic invertebrates are a valuable group with which to evaluate the recovery of the Kissimmee River. Utilization of a geographic information system mapping approach linking expected increased habitat heterogeneity and invertebrate richness with restoration efforts is suggested as an economical means of monitoring recovery of the Kissimmee River ecosystem.