Missouri River Least Tern and Piping Plover Model Development

by R. Tressler, Enserch Environmental, Bellevue, United States,
R. Fairbanks, Enserch Environmental, Bellevue, United States,
D. Latka, Enserch Environmental, Bellevue, United States,
J. Glassley, Enserch Environmental, Bellevue, United States,
K. Engel, Enserch Environmental, Bellevue, United States,
J. Rude, Enserch Environmental, Bellevue, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water Policy and Management: Solving the Problems


As part of the update of the Missouri River Master Water Control Manual, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is evaluating the effects of numerous water management alternatives on endangered interior least tern and threatened piping plover nesting habitat. Evaluation includes reviewing species habitat requirements, conducting field surveys of sandbar habitat, inventorying habitat at different flows, and developing a tern and plover model that simulates changes in habitat acreage over a 96-year period. Aerial videography taken at several different flows and field surveys allowed stratification of sandbar acreage into 3,000 cfs elevation bands as well as 3 vegetation types that are suitable nesting habitat, and 6 types that are too vegetated or wet for use as nesting habitat. This matrix of vegetation type acreage was used along with simulated monthly flow data for each alternative as input values in the model. The model uses the time series of monthly flows to simulate changes in vegetation composition based on flow vs. vegetation type successional rules. The availability of nesting habitat during each nesting season of the 96-year simulation was derived by comparing June-August monthly maximum flows to that year's island vegetation/ elevation acreage matrix. The model predicts that alternatives with higher minimum system storage levels would provide slightly more habitat than lower storage level alternatives.

Subject Headings: Vegetation | Simulation models | Rivers and streams | Pipes | Hydrologic models | Shoals | Matrix (mathematics) | Flow duration | Missouri River

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