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Generalized instream habitat models

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Conventional instream habitat models (e.g., the physical habitat simulation system) predict the impact of regulation on the habitats of freshwater taxa. They link a hydraulic model with microhabitat-suitability models for taxa to predict habitat values at various discharge rates. Their use requires considerable field effort and experience. Recent analyses performed in France suggested that comparable results could be achieved using simplified hydraulic data. We tested this approach for 99 stream reaches and nine aquatic taxa in New Zealand. The resulting generalized habitat models predict habitat values similar to those predicted by conventional models from simplified hydraulic data (depth–discharge and width–discharge relationships, average particle size, and mean annual discharge). As in France, within-reach changes in habitat values were linked to the specific discharge of reaches, while between-reach changes depended mainly on the Froude number at mean annual discharge. The generalized models perform well outside their calibration range. Models previously developed in France perform well in New Zealand. Such generalized models contribute to identifying the key hydraulic variables for freshwater taxa and should facilitate habitat studies worldwide.

Les modèles d'habitat conventionnels comme « physical habitat simulation system » prédisent les impacts des aménagements sur l'habitat des organismes aquatiques. Ils couplent un modèle hydraulique avec des modèles de préférences biologiques, pour prédire des valeurs d'habitat en fonction du débit. Des modèles alternatifs moins coûteux ont été récemment développés en France. Nous testons cette approche alternative pour neuf taxons sur 99 tronçons de rivières de Nouvelle-Zélande. Nous développons ainsi des modèles d'habitat généralisés qui donnent des estimations fiables des valeurs d'habitat à partir de variables hydrauliques simples (lois hauteur–débit et largeur–débit, substrat moyen et débit journalier moyen). Comme en France, les valeurs d'habitat varient essentiellement avec le débit spécifique intra-rivière et avec le nombre de Froude (au débit moyen) inter-rivières. Les modèles restent généralement pertinents hors de leur domaine de validation. Les modèles auparavant développés en France restent valides en Nouvelle-Zélande. Ces modèles généralisés nous indiquent les variables hydrauliques clés pour les organismes lotiques. Leur généralité devrait faciliter les études d'habitat hydraulique dans le monde.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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