2020 Science Symposium

Agenda, Abstracts, and Presentations

December 1-3, 2020

Zoom

Click on presentation titles to view abstracts, download presentations, or watch presentation recordings.

December 1, 2020

9:00 – 9:10

Day 1 Welcome & Opening Remarks

Moderated By:

Debbie Lee, Program Support Team

9:10 – 9:25

Introduction to the Collaborative Program Science and Adaptive Management (S&AM) Process

Moderated By:

9:25 – 10:00

Science and Adaptive Management Committee (SAMC) Lightning Round

Moderated By:

10:00 – 11:00

Session I – The Changing Bosque Habitat

Moderated By: Anne Marken

10:00 – 10:15

Mary Harner, University of Nebraska at Kearney

As we pursue sustainable freshwater systems, we must consider how humans interact with these resources. We conducted an analysis of landcover change around the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, NM, and found that human development expanded from less than 5% of land cover in 1935 to over 60% of land cover by 2018. These alterations have cascading effects on the structure and function of riparian ecosystems, including provision of habitat for threatened and endangered species. Concurrent with loss of natural space and agricultural lands, human awareness and use of the bosque for recreational, educational, and other purposes were facilitated by increased public access to river places. In this presentation, we examine ways people have modified a river-floodplain ecosystem to meet human needs, while simultaneously recognizing and embracing other values for ecological health and human well-being provided by riparian areas. We show landscape-level change through analysis of historical aerial photography and repeat photography of the river and surrounding land since 1935. We also share examples of changing ways that humans interact with the bosque, including at the Rio Grande Nature Center, Tingley Beach, and Central Avenue Bridge. We discuss implications of these changing human relationships with the river, as well as share examples of approaches to exchanging knowledge about ecosystem change and place with public audiences.

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10:15 – 10:30

Chris Sanderson, Tetra Tech, Inc.

Riparian ecosystem disturbance occurring at broad temporal and spatial scales must be examined on a landscape-scale to evaluate the magnitude and character change. Over the past century, the overall quality of riparian habitats in the Middle Rio Grande has been negatively impacted by several anthropogenic factors and more recently by the introduction of the tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda spp., TLB) as a biological control agent to suppress tamarisk (Tamarix spp.). Ongoing TLB defoliation has resulted in reduced vegetative cover and novel fire behavior in riparian areas, which has negatively impacted Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) breeding and nesting habitat.

The use of remote sensing (RS) and vegetation indices is ideally suited to monitor landscape-scale ecosystem change related to the photosynthetic process and primary production, growth patterns, and the extent and severity of fire events. For example, the range and timing of Diorhabda defoliation or the extent and severity of fire is difficult to track and analyze from the ground but can be rapidly and repeatably characterized using RS techniques. We will present RS methods using Sentinel-2A, a moderate resolution earth observation data, and several RS outputs used to support field-based monitoring practices and habitat restoration analysis and planning. These methods have been developed to characterize target areas, understand spatial patterning and their underlying processes, prioritize field efforts, and quantify vegetation change over time.

In the first case study, we will present RS techniques used to monitor tamarisk-dominated stands over a 3-year period, during which TLB became an established disturbance agent. The second case study will describe examples of RS techniques used to support post-fire habitat restoration planning in a 9,000-acre riparian context. Examples of burn area mapping and ground verification techniques using RS will be presented.

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10:30 – 10:45

Richard A. Valdez, SWCA Environmental Consultants

The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission has been investigating the use of restored and natural floodplains of the Middle Rio Grande (MRG) since 2007. Studies from 2007 to 2014 describe the use of constructed floodplain habitats by MRG fishes and the daily trends in abundance of spawning Rio Grande silvery minnow (RGSM, Hybognathus amarus). In 2016, the NMISC began systematic studies of larval fish in restored floodplain sites, finding that the majority of larvae in floodplains were RGSM. Follow-up studies in 2017 and 2019 found that larval RGSM in floodplains and along mainstem banklines similarly used shallow, low-velocity areas with vegetative cover, but larvae were significantly closer to mainstem water’s edge and away from deeper, swifter currents. We also used otolith analysis to determine hatch and spawn dates of RGSM. These studies identify the principal habitat features important to ongoing floodplain restoration projects, and they help to inform the relationship between spring runoff, floodplain habitat, and abundance of RGSM.

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10:45 – 11:00

Ondrea Hummel and Joe Schroeder, Tetra Tech, Inc.

Tamarisk (Tamarix spp.; aka saltcedar) is an invasive shrub that has become a major nesting substrate for the federally endangered southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus; flycatcher) [1]. The tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda spp; TLB) is an introduced biocontrol agent which feeds on tamarisk, triggering defoliation events. Defoliation of tamarisk during the flycatcher nesting season (May – July) decreases nesting success by exposing flycatcher eggs and nestlings to potentially lethal temperatures from direct sunlight and increasing nest parasitism.

Tetra Tech was contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a spatial model to identify priority areas for flycatcher habitat restoration in the Middle Rio Grande. Tetra Tech’s Albuquerque Office Environmental Team integrated their collective experience in ecological restoration, stream engineering, GIS and remote sensing applications, and flycatcher habitat relationships to develop a flycatcher habitat restoration siting model which, in combination with field investigations, was used to identify the top 0.5% of potential flycatcher habitat restoration opportunities within the Middle Rio Grande.

The flycatcher habitat restoration siting model provides a timely solution for flycatcher conservation in the form of a siting tool that can be used to efficiently allocate funding for flycatcher habitat creation within the Middle Rio Grande. More than 50% of flycatcher nests in the Middle Rio Grande, NM, have been documented in tamarisk since 2011.

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11:00 – 11:15

Break

11:15 – 11:30

S&AM Tool Presentation: AM Database

Moderated By:

11:30 – 12:30

Virtual Field Tour

Moderated By: Debbie Lee

S. David Moore and Rebecca Siegle, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Riparian forests are an important ecosystem in the Desert Southwest. Within the region, seventy percent of threatened or endangered species are considered riparian obligates and the destruction of riparian habitats has been responsible for the decline of many imperiled species. Within the Middle Rio Grande, the federally endangered southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus - SWFL) is a focal species that has suffered population declines due to reductions in native riparian habitat quantity and quality. The Los Lunas Restoration Site (LLRS) was constructed in response to a 2001 Biological Opinion and designed to provide habitat for both the SWFL and the federally endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow (Hybognathus amarus). Designs included partial clearing, bank lowering, tree planting and installation of side channels to provide habitat for both species. In 2003, monitoring of groundwater and the avian and vegetation communities within the site was initiated by Technical Service Center personnel. Objectives included determining the success of restoring a productive native riparian community and assessing its suitability for breeding SWFLs. The western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus - YBCU), federally listed in 2014, was added to this assessment later in the study. Following 17 years of monitoring, evaluation criteria for the LLRS determined that riparian restoration has been successful. Plant species composition in both overstory and understory, promoted by a shallow water table, is dominated by native wetland plants. Exotic species comprise a small percentage of overall vegetative cover. A diverse bird population with an increasing abundance of mid-story species has developed. However, LLRS vegetation data have not been comparable to occupied SWFL sites, and occupation by breeding SWFLs or YBCUs has not been documented within LLRS. The site does show potential for YBCU habitat, therefore further monitoring, while currently not planned, is recommended.

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12:30 – 1:30

Lunch Social Hour & Poster Presentation

Moderated By:

Jonathan Tyrrell, Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program

The disruption of successional processes in the Middle Rio Grande (MRG) threatens the long-term viability of the riparian “bosque” ecosystem. Climatic and anthropomorphic modifications to channel structure have inhibited important disturbance regimes – regular overbank flooding – and, in turn, degraded vegetation community structure. Rather than a dynamic patchwork mosaic (DPM), the bosque is now largely dominated by poorly structured communities of native and nonnative species such as Rio Grande cottonwood (Populus deltoides ssp. wislizeni), willow species (Salix spp.), Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), and saltcedar (Tamarix spp.), respectively. Although restoration projects simulate disturbance at some localities in the MRG, vegetation communities persist relatively independent of regular physical drivers of succession. Understanding the characteristics of vegetation communities which interact to promote or inhibit ecosystem resilience at multiple spatial scales (e.g., by sub-reach or reach-wide) in lieu of regular disturbance would be valuable to inform management strategies at an ecosystem scale. To characterize interactions between vegetation communities and ecosystem resilience, we analyzed the 22-year Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program vegetation dataset. We used a Bayesian multilevel model of total and specific abundance at various spatial and temporal scales to illustrate the emergence of effects on changes in community composition over time (e.g., changes in species diversity and turnover rate). We expected to observe high density of native and nonnative species to positively correlate with low turnover rate and diversity. Additionally, we expected poorly structured communities to be self-reinforcing without external disturbance, where dense stands of both native and nonnative species prevented new propagation of diverse assemblages. These results inform management strategies for density to promote diversity and resilience. As we expect increased conditions of aridity and decreased water availability in the MRG, low-water management strategies which promote ecosystem resilience will improve long-term ecosystem viability.

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December 2, 2020

9:00 – 9:05

Day 2 Welcome

Moderated By:

Catherine Murphy, Program Support Team

9:05 – 10:05

Virtual Field Tour

Moderated By: Debbie Lee

Wade Wilson, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center

Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center (Southwestern ARRC) is located within the Pecos River Valley of southeastern New Mexico, 200 miles southeast of Albuquerque, 20 miles south of Roswell, and one mile east of the town of Dexter on State Road 190. The facility (Dexter Fish Hatchery) was authorized under the White Act of 1930 to meet the demands for warmwater sport fish in the southwest. After Congress passed the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was charged with the responsibility of identifying and protecting threatened and endangered species. Southwestern ARRC conducts an aquatic species conservation program that assists in restoration and recovery efforts of federally listed threatened and endangered species. The facility functions though scientific development and evaluation of new methods, concepts, systems, and approaches and consists of three major programs: Captive Propagation and Augmentation, Applied Research, and Aquatic Animal Health. All three programs at Southwestern ARRC participate in Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program activities. This presentation will provide background information on the facility, the programs, and provide a virtual tour of each.

10:05 – 11:20

Session II – Rio Grande Silvery Minnow: Life History and Biology

Moderated By: Mo Hobbs

10:05 – 10:20

Robert K. Dudley, American Southwest Ichthyological Researchers, L.L.C. & Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico

River fragmentation, flow regulation, and habitat loss across the Great Plains and American Southwest have led to the widespread decline or extirpation of numerous pelagic-spawning cyprinids, including Rio Grande silvery minnow, Hybognathus amarus. The objectives of this ongoing study are to characterize and assess the timing, duration, frequency, and magnitude of spawning for this federally endangered species in the Middle Rio Grande, NM. Egg passage rates (E(x); eggs per second) in the two downstream reaches were consistently higher than those in the upstream reach, but the seasonal timing/duration (ca. late April to early June) and interannual passage-rate trends were similar across reaches. Overall, the probability of collecting eggs increased with rapidly rising flows but decreased with elevated water temperatures. Additionally, changes in egg occurrence probabilities and egg passage rates were moderately predicted by differences in seasonal river flows across years (2003–2020). Based on the top three ecological models (out of 196 considered), we found that egg occurrence probabilities were higher during years with reduced and truncated spring flows, and that egg passage rates were lower during years with elevated and extended spring flows. It is likely that the proportion of individuals retained and successfully recruited upstream is positively related to the availability of floodplain nursery habitats (i.e., shallow, warm, productive areas), which are most prevalent during years with high spring flows. As newly hatched fish require about one month to progress through the early larval phases, the long-term persistence of these habitats is essential during this initial period. The future conservation status and recovery of Rio Grande silvery minnow appear strongly dependent on reliably ensuring appropriate seasonal flow and habitat conditions that will promote the successful spawning and early recruitment of this imperiled species.

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10:20 – 10:35

Thomas Archdeacon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Understanding how fish respond to streamflow intermittency can help develop effective conservation actions to mitigate the negative effects on local assemblages. In the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico, mechanical pumps are used to return water to the river from irrigation channels. We used these pumps to evaluate the effect of decreasing flows on habitat and the fish assemblage response by ramping pumping rates down over four weeks. Our objectives were: 1) to determine changes in habitat as flows decreased, and 2) to evaluate species-specific responses by observing spatial and temporal changes in fish numbers and movement of marked individuals. We surveyed fish and habitat availability data at 10 randomly selected locations in a 35-km reach of the Rio Grande downstream of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Most mesohabitats exhibited little change during flow reductions until all pumping ceased; however, run habitats were affected differentially and decreased substantially with each flow reduction. Lateral and longitudinal connectivity of habitats decreased prior to the onset of intermittency, which presented barriers to fish movement. We found some evidence of increased fish numbers in perennial refuge areas, but overall observed little change in the spatial structure of fishes. Our results suggest most movements are short, with individuals seeking immediate, proximal habitats. Yet, while these proximal habitats initially offered refuge from predators and desiccation, the majority eventually dried quickly, functioning instead as ecological traps. We observed a shift to extremophile fish species during the last survey: Red Shiner (N = 5,687) and Western Mosquitofish (N = 1,047) dominated total catch (6,904). Future increases in frequency and extent of streamflow intermittency will likely result in a more homogenous fish assemblage, dominated by tolerant, generalist species with opportunistic life-histories. Actions to conserve fish assemblages must consider behavioral and physiological life-history adaptations of species to be effective.

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10:35 – 10:50

Richard A. Valdez, SWCA Environmental Consultants

Newly-hatched larvae of the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow (RGSM, Hybognathus amarus) need shallow, sheltered, productive habitats in spring for growth and survival. RGSM in spawning condition, and as larvae, are equally common to abundant in natural and restored floodplains of the Middle Rio Grande, suggesting that these ephemeral riverside features are important spawning and nursery habitats. The timing, magnitude and duration of floodplain inundation is critical to egg incubation and maximum post-larval recruitment. Newly-inundated floodplains typically surge with production of diatoms, algae, and small invertebrates in synchrony with the dietary needs of the young fish. Ideally, floodplain inundation should begin about the time of spawning, as indicated by annual cumulative degree-days of about 700−900 degree-days, persist 30−40 days for the entire hatch cycle, while allowing individual larvae to fully develop fins and fin rays (14–22 days post-hatch). This information will help inform the best time frame for maximum survival of the RGSM, specifically the time duration necessary for floodplain inundation. In some cases, water managers may choose to reduce a sharpened spring runoff peak to provide a lower and longer period of floodplain inundation.

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10:50 – 11:05

Michael D. Porter, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow (Hybognathus amarus, Silvery Minnow) reproduction in response to spring runoff is the focus of analysis to improve our understanding of environmental flow requirements. Water management on the Rio Grande over the past 100 years has changed the hydrology and channel geomorphology. Determination of appropriate flow parameters supporting floodplain inundation provides important information for fish nursery habitat, including Silvery Minnows. Water management and drought have reduced the magnitude of the spring snowmelt hydrograph, while channelization and in-stream structures have reduced the connectivity between the river and the floodplain. The availability of inundated floodplain habitat has important implications for Silvery Minnow reproduction, recruitment, and population viability.

The objective of this study was to better understand annual Silvery Minnow spawning and production in response to environmental flow parameters. Metrics describing juvenile production and other population parameters were calculated from Silvery Minnow population monitoring data. The Hydrologic Engineering Center Ecosystem Functions Model (HEC-EFM) was used to calculate hydrological metrics, and River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) software was used to calculate hydraulic metrics for Silvery Minnow. A functional analysis approach with R statistical software was used to evaluate the relationships of seasonal hydrology (magnitude, duration), seasonal hydrology paired with hydraulic analyses (1-D and 2-D hydraulics on various scales, habitat suitability indices), and Silvery Minnow life history metrics (seasonal recruitment trends and population indices). Preliminary results indicate that spring flow less than 2000 cfs for 14-21 days at the Albuquerque Gage as a minimum environmental flow for recruitment. This method supports adaptive management by identifying minimum environmental flow parameters for successful recruitment to inform water management strategies and restoration design criteria.

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11:05 – 11:20

Guilherme Caeiro-Dias, Department of Biology & Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico

Genetic variation in the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow (RGSM) has been monitored almost every year since 1999 using microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA. Since then, new genetic technologies have emerged (e.g., Next Generation Sequencing [NGS]) that offer higher resolution for genetic monitoring, especially when evaluating changes over timescales relevant for adaptive management. As a first step toward transitioning the RGSM genetic monitoring program to an NGS platform, we obtained data from RADseq (Restriction Site Associated DNA sequencing) that captures genetic variation in the whole genome. We identified 2,983 genetic loci for 373 archived RGSM samples collected from 1999 to 2018. Genetic diversity has been maintained in the remnant population since 1999 despite repeated population bottlenecks consistent with previous genetic monitoring data. We attribute this result to ‘genetic rescue’ from repeated supplementation of the Rio Grande population with individuals from captive reproduction and captively-reared wild individuals. Moreover, RADseq data allowed detection of temporal substructure, i.e., genomic changes across time. The current RGSM genomic background differs from the pre-augmentation wild population due to temporal changes in allelic frequencies. Demographic factors play an important role in driving those changes. Severe bottlenecks followed by genetic drift associated with population augmentation are likely the predominant force. While ‘genetic rescue’ can mitigate impacts of severe bottlenecks, genetic diversity in the population mostly depends on diversity retained within the captive populations. In addition, RADseq data allowed us to select a panel of 300 informative loci that will be used for future genomic monitoring of the RGSM. This will provide an important tool for adaptive genetic management.

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11:20 – 11:30

Break

11:30 – 12:00

Keynote Speaker – Laura Paskus

Moderated By: Debbie Lee

Laura Paskus, New Mexico PBS

12:00 – 12:30

S&AM Tool Presentation: Conceptual Ecological Models

Moderated By:

12:30–1:30

Lunch Social Hour & Poster Presentation

Moderated By:

Jacob G. Mortensen, American Southwest Ichthyological Researchers, L.L.C.

The Middle Rio Grande has experienced considerable geomorphic change resulting from river engineering, reduced magnitude and frequency of peak flows, increased duration and frequency of low flows, establishment of invasive riparian vegetation, and complex sediment dynamics. Hydrologic and geomorphic impacts have contributed to the decline of the remnant wild population of Rio Grande silvery minnow, Hybognathus amarus, motivating research and conservation of this federally-listed endangered species. There is a need to link our knowledge of the morpho-dynamics (i.e., interaction of hydrologic and geomorphic processes) of the Middle Rio Grande with the habitat conditions required by the Rio Grande silvery minnow to improve holistic understanding of this complex and dynamic ecosystem. The goal of this study is to perform spatiotemporal analyses of habitat conditions on the Middle Rio Grande using long-term, systematically collected datasets (e.g., stream gaging, channel surveys, ichthyofaunal monitoring). Primary objectives are to synthesize data and knowledge of the Rio Grande silvery minnow and Middle Rio Grande across diverse river sciences (e.g., biology, ecology, hydrology, geomorphology, and engineering) and delineate linkages between morpho-dynamic processes and habitat conditions for this imperiled species. Analyses incorporate interdisciplinary methods such as life history models, physical habitat criteria, hydraulic modeling, and channel evolution models. This work is part of an ongoing, multi-year, collaborative research program; this presentation will provide results obtained from recent analyses of the Isleta Reach of the Middle Rio Grande. Key findings include the derivation of flow-habitat relationships and flow-habitat metrics by life-stages, assessment of geomorphic changes on habitat conditions over time, evaluation of long-term ecological relationships, and description of the principal process-linkages observed.

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December 3, 2020

10:00 – 10:05

Day 3 Welcome

Moderated By:

Catherine Murphy, Program Support Team

10:05 – 11:05

Session III – Modeling a Dynamic System: Developing Hydraulic and Hydrologic Models for the Middle Rio Grande

Moderated By: Ashlee Rudolph

10:05 – 10:20

Aubrey Harris, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

In 2019, US Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation and US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) entered an interagency agreement to characterize the quality of hydraulic habitat generated on eight (8) restoration sites on the Middle Rio Grande near San Acacia, NM. Inundation monitoring data and topographic surveying were used to characterize the performance of these sites and to anticipate changes in effectiveness due to sedimentation from the above-normal 2019 Spring Snow-melt Runoff. In addition, USACE has conducted a sensitivity analysis to determine how well hydraulic habitat evaluation correlates with fish population monitoring data from 2000-2018.

This work presents a hydraulic modeling method using HEC-RAS and HEC-EFM for characterizing hydraulic habitat for the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow (Hybognathus amarus, Silvery Minnow). The study demonstrates use of field measured data and literature review to generate a Habitat Suitability Index (as a curve), testing the appropriateness of hydraulic metrics, and how these tools may be applied in visualization and quantification of suitable hydraulic areas. There is discussion of how restoration sites contribute areas of suitable hydraulics for Silvery Minnow larval life stages relative to surrounding, natural floodplain terraces. There is discussion of model calibration/validation and the importance of monitoring data for implementing hydraulic modeling. The methodology provides insight on how different configurations of restoration sites contribute to restoration goals for the Silvery Minnow. The methodology may also be used as an assessment tool in alternatives analysis for adaptive management, restoration site design and water management decisions.

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10:20 – 10:35

Kyle Shour, Tetra Tech, Inc.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Albuquerque District (USACE) and Tetra Tech have long collaborated on the development of two models: the Upper Rio Grande Water Operations Model (URGWOM) and a mobile-bed sediment transport HEC-RAS model that extends from Cochiti Dam to Elephant Butte Reservoir. URGWOM is a daily and monthly timestep water operations hydrology model used by USACE, U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission to forecast dam operations and river flow. UGRWOM is used for four types of simulations: accounting, annual operating plans (AOP), planning, and historical. Planning simulations evaluate changes to river flows over decades. In 2017, Tetra Tech performed planning simulations at a daily timestep.

The Middle Rio Grande (MRG) HEC-RAS mobile-bed sediment transport model developed by Tetra tech for USACE is divided into four reaches: (1) Cochiti Dam to Angostura Diversion Dam (ADD), (2) ADD to Isleta Diversion Dam (IDD), (3) IDD to San Acacia Diversion Dam (SADD), and (4) SADD to Elephant Butte Reservoir. It simulates one-dimensional hydraulics, sediment transport, and bed elevation changes on a daily timestep, using a daily timestep hydrograph as input.

There are many factors that contribute to a successful restoration project. One of these is the long-term geomorphic change in the river caused by the interaction of the flowing water and the transported sediment. When used in tandem, URGWOM and the MRG mobile-bed HEC-RAS model can provide a clearer understanding of long-term geomorphic changes that can improve restoration planning efforts such as construction of new features and adaptive management of existing restored sites. Tetra Tech has run the ADD to IDD reach of the HEC-RAS model with the 2017 planning run hydrographs as input. We will present the results and discuss the implications for planning.

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10:35 – 10:50

Ari J. Posner, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The study of river-floodplain ecosystems inherently involves multiple scientific disciplines, including biology, ecology, engineering, geomorphology, and hydrology. Across these disciplines, river systems are commonly represented conceptually by a hierarchy of processes and features that function dynamically across multiple spatial scales over time. Numerous approaches to interdisciplinary river research emphasize process-based principles. Process-based approaches are suited to identify and mitigate the root causes of degradation, leading to enhanced restoration outcomes, as opposed to traditional, form-based approaches that tend to address the symptoms of morpho-dynamic alterations rather than the causes. Accordingly, these concepts were implemented in this study to the greatest degree possible given available data and methods for the Middle Rio Grande.

The objectives are to identify and assess linkages between morpho-dynamics and habitat conditions, improve understanding of morpho-dynamic processes suspected to influence habitat and population dynamics, provide recommendations to fill in data gaps, and provide recommendations for river management.

A suite of methods was developed to integrate long-term datasets designed to monitor and characterize hydrologic, geomorphic, and ecological trends, and to understand relationships between hydrogeomorphic processes and ecological dynamics occurring at the reach-scale. Relationships between discharge and habitat availability were used to create a habitat metric incorporating hydrologic, geomorphic, and ecological factors over time and describe key linkages among morpho-dynamics processes and habitats.

Process-linkages identified were floodplain connectivity and inundation, and main channel habitat complexity. Evaluation of ecological relationships between Rio Grande silvery minnow populations and environmental variables indicate that flow and habitat metrics corresponding to the larval life stage were among the most reliable predictors of density and occurrence of the species.

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10:50 – 11:05

Breana Chavez and Walt Kuhn; Michelle Klein, Tetra Tech, Inc.; U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

For the past 30 years, Tetra Tech has collected hydrographic data on the Middle Rio Grande, primarily for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, Pueblos and other Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program agencies. This presentation will detail the types of hydrographic data collected, the methods used, and the technical advancements in hydrographic data collection. It will explain how hydrographic data is used to develop modeling tools, monitor river changes, and plan and design river restoration projects to improve endangered species habitat in the Middle Rio Grande.

The hydrographic data Tetra Tech has collected includes: river cross section geometry; bathymetric, topographic, and vegetation surveys; water-surface profiles; measurements of suspended sediment and bedload transport; bed material samples for particle size distributions; and geomorphic characterizations of bed forms and channel types. These data provide a wealth of information that has been used to assess and document channel and floodplain morphology, develop hydrologic models, and develop and calibrate hydraulic and sediment transport models. These data are important for evaluating flood risk management and for anticipating and addressing channel stabilization and bank protection needs. These data are also instrumental for developing reach-wide habitat restoration plans and for site-specific restoration including floodplain reconnection, high-flow channels, and fish passage site assessments. Numerous examples over the last 30 years illustrate how these datasets are the basis for successful restoration projects throughout the Middle Rio Grande.

Advances in technology have improved hydrographic data techniques. While advances such as LiDAR, GPS, and acoustic doppler current profiler (ADCP) have made it possible to collect data more efficiently, the Rio Grande’s high sediment loads and variable flows still require on-the-ground data collection methods. Thus, the data sets presented will continue to provide important references for restoration work into the foreseeable future.

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11:05 – 11:35

Keynote Speaker – Cliff Dahm

Moderated By: Catherine Murphy

Cliff Dahm, University of New Mexico

The Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program (Collaborative Program) has recently drafted a proposed Science and Adaptive Management Plan (S&AM Plan). The Collaborative Program has also agreed to support the use of adaptive management (AM) in the Middle Rio Grande. AM has been defined in the S&AM Plan as a rigorous approach for designing and implementing management actions to maximize learning about uncertainties that affect management decisions. I served as lead scientist for the California Delta Science Program, a part of the Delta Stewardship Council, from 2008-2012 and from 2015-2017. Many similar planning efforts for science and management, underpinned by adaptive management as required by State of California statute, are products of the Delta Stewardship Council, a state agency formed in November of 2009 to coordinate planning and science for the California Delta. For example, the Delta Plan was completed in May of 2013, the Delta Science Plan was approved in December of 2013, and the Science Action Agenda for 2017-2021 was finalized and initiated in 2017. Lessons learned from a decade of management planning, science planning, and setting science priorities might provide some usable guidance for similar efforts by the Collaborative Program.

11:35 – 11:50

S&AM Tool Presentation: Interactive Mapper

Moderated By:

11:50 – 12:00

Closing Remarks

Catherine Murphy