River Restoration, Habitat Heterogeneity and Biodiversity: A Failure of Theory or Practice?

Palmer, M.A., H.L. Menninger and E. Bernhardt

Publication Date:

Stream ecosystems are increasingly impacted by multiple stressors that lead to a loss of sensitive species and an overall reduction in diversity. A dominant paradigm in ecological restoration is that increasing habitat heterogeneity (HH) promotes restoration of biodiversity. This paradigm is reflected in stream restoration projects through the common practice of re- configuring channels to add meanders and adding physical structures such as boulders and artificial riffles to restore biodiversity by enhancing structural heterogeneity. Despite the complexity of these stressors, a large number of stream restoration projects focus primarily on enhancing HH; we show that this is not a wise investment. Managers should critically diagnose the stressors impacting an impaired stream and invest resources first in repairing those problems most likely to limit restoration.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Freshwater Biology