Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2017-57
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
21 Mar 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Importance of considering riparian vegetation requirements for the long-term efficiency of environmental flows
Rui Rivaes1, Isabel Boavida2, José M. Santos1, António N. Pinheiro2, and Teresa Ferreira1 1Forest Research Centre, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa, Tapada da Ajuda 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal
2CERIS, Civil Engineering Research Innovation and Sustainability Centre, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Av. Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal
Abstract. Environmental flows remain biased toward the traditional biological group of fish species. Accordingly, these flows ignore the inter-annual flow variability that rules species with longer life cycles, thereby disregarding the long-term perspective of the riverine ecosystem. We analyzed the influence of considering riparian requirements for the long-term efficiency of environmental flows. For that analysis, we modeled the riparian vegetation development for a decade facing different environmental flows in two case studies. Next, we assessed the corresponding fish habitat availability of three common fish species in each of the resulting riparian habitat scenarios. Modeling results demonstrated that the environmental flows disregarding riparian vegetation requirements promoted riparian degradation, particularly vegetation encroachment. Such circumstance altered the hydraulic characteristics of the river channel where flow depths and velocities underwent changes up to 10 cm and 40 cm s−1, respectively. Accordingly, after a decade of this flow regime, the available habitat area for the considered fish species experienced modifications in absolute from 18.16 % to 109.75 % compared to the natural habitat. In turn, environmental flows regarding riparian vegetation requirements were able to maintain riparian vegetation near natural standards, thereby preserving the hydraulic characteristics of the river channel and sustaining the fish habitat close to the natural condition. As a result, fish habitat availability never changed more than 16.17 % from the natural habitat.

Citation: Rivaes, R., Boavida, I., Santos, J. M., Pinheiro, A. N., and Ferreira, T.: Importance of considering riparian vegetation requirements for the long-term efficiency of environmental flows, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2017-57, in review, 2017.
Rui Rivaes et al.
Rui Rivaes et al.
Rui Rivaes et al.

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We analyzed the influence of considering riparian requirements for the long-term efficiency of environmental flows. After a decade, environmental flows disregarding riparian requirements promoted riparian degradation and consequently the change of the hydraulic characteristics of the river channel and the modification of the available habitat area for fish species. Environmental flows regarding riparian vegetation requirements were able to sustain the fish habitat close to the natural condition.
We analyzed the influence of considering riparian requirements for the long-term efficiency of...
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