Identifying linkages between aquatic habitat, geomorphology, and land use in Sourdough Creek Watershed
McIlroy, Susan Kay
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Aquatic systems reflect the geomorphological and land use processes that shape them. System function, structure, and composition are driven by both autogenous and exogenous processes at small- and large-scales. Impacts often act synergistically, increasing the complexity and magnitude of their effects on aquatic systems. To assess these impacts, watershed scale studies are becoming more common, and an integration of research and management is beginning to emerge. Diverse user groups and differing agendas complicate watershed management and restoration, making a collaborative decision-making process imperative. Objectives of this study were to identify linkages between aquatic habitat, geomorphology, and land use in Sourdough Creek Watershed, explore potential land use impacts in the Lower Watershed, and identify a sustainable management plan for the watershed. Specific questions involved identifying potential westslope cutthroat trout reintroduction areas in the Upper Watershed and exploring statistical correlations between six land classes and the response variables of large woody debris and pool length. This study found suitable reintroduction areas as well as identified linkages between predictor variables and LWD and pool length across land classes. Although others have assessed aquatic habitat on a large-scale as well as identified potential management paradigms, this study integrates the two in order to provide a useful document for stakeholders and managers of Sourdough Creek Watershed.