Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program

Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program

Long Term Resource Monitoring



Indicators of ecosystem structure and function for the Upper Mississippi River System

De Jager, N.R., Rogala, J.T., Rohweder, J.J., Van Appledorn, M., Bouska, K.L., Houser, Jeffrey, N., and Jankowski, K.J., 2018, Indicators of ecosystem structure and function for the Upper Mississippi River System: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1143, 115 p., including 4 appendixes, https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181143


This report documents the development of quantitative measures (indicators) of ecosystem structure and function for use in a Habitat Needs Assessment (HNA) for the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS). HNAs are led periodically by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Program, which is the primary habitat restoration program on the UMRS. The UMRR Program helps determine how Federal, State and nongovernmental agencies can best address environmental issues on one of the world’s largest and most diverse river systems. Each indicator in this report represents at least one management objective developed for the river system. These objectives were developed in a previous planning effort using an ecosystem management conceptual framework. The objectives represent five essential ecosystem characteristics: hydraulics and hydrology, biogeochemistry, geomorphology, habitat, and biota. Subsequent to the 2011 planning effort, the UMRR increased its focus on improving the health and resilience of the UMRS. The indicators presented here are based on the five essential ecosystem characteristics and four aspects of ecosystems thought to support general ecosystem resilience (the ability of an ecosystem to adapt and respond to disturbances): (1) connectivity, (2) diversity and redundancy, (3)controlling variables, and (4) slow processes. Thus, we developed indicators that quantify both essential ecosystem characteristics and characteristics of a resilient river system. The indicators documented in this report focus on important aspects of river floodplain hydrogeomorphology, given the fundamental role hydrogeomorphology plays in determining habitat conditions and ecosystem health and resilience at broad geographic scales. The information contained within this report provides a broader scale (for example, system-wide) context for management decisions made at finer scales(for example, within river reaches or at project sites) and is designed for use in the formal system-wide Habitat Needs Assessment II (HNA–II) led by the UMRR Program.


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