Using Tracer Response Curves to Quantify Hydraulic and Channel Complexity of Prairie Creek, Northwestern California: Implications for Over Wintering Habitat for Juvenile Coho Salmon

by Montgomery Schmitt,
Margaret Lang,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Watershed Management and Operations Management 2000


This study measured and compared aspects of channel structural complexity with hydraulic complexity at a range of flows including winter storm flows. Five 200-meter reaches containing varying degrees of LWD loading were selected on Prairie Creek, a pristine old growth stream located in Redwood National Park. A fluorescent dye tracer (Rhodamine WT) and fluorometer were used to measure hydraulic retention as an indicator of hydraulic complexity and dead zone fraction over a range of flows. Dead zone fraction, mean velocity and the exchange coefficient were determined by nonlinear least squares fit to a physical nonequilibrium transport model. The statistical moments of the tracer response curves were also used to quantify the reach hydraulic characteristics. Channel complexity was quantified for each study reach using LWD loading surveys and channel and longitudinal profile surveys.

Subject Headings: Hydraulics | Flow measurement | Channels (waterway) | Probe instruments | Rivers and streams | Winter | Load factors | California | United States

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