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Streamline; Vol. 2; No. 1; Spring 1997 Soto, Christina (editor)
1997
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Abstract: Off-channel habitats are waterbodies within the floodplain that are generally protected from the river’s floodwaters, except during the most extreme of events. They include marshes, ponds, and river side channels that receive flow either directly from the river, from groundwater or other sources. Salmonids make extensive use of off-channel habitats for both spawning and rearing (Lister et al. 1980; Lister 1997). Many historically productive side channels and ponds have been isolated and made unusable to salmonids due to flood protection works, drainage structures, land development and past forest practices. These same developments have also destroyed fish habitat and significantly altered the hydrological conditions in the mainstem of rivers, sometimes to such an extent that instream restoration projects are not feasible. The resultant instability is especially pronounced during floods, when larger rivers may experience higher than historical levels of flows, causing bank destabilization, channelization (widening, straightening or simplification of the channel) and transport of good spawning gravels out of the system. The waters may also carry massive quantities of bedload from higher in the watershed, resulting in filling in of the remaining gravel with larger substrates. In watersheds where large woody debris (LWD) is still present in the floodplain, these high flows can result in transport of LWD out of the system. Therefore the impacts of flood regimes in these “flashy” systems further affect habitats necessary for various life stages of anadromous salmonids.
 
Soto, Christina (editor). 1997. Streamline; Vol. 2; No. 1; Spring 1997. Ministry of Environment, Watershed Restoration Program. Streamline. Vol. 2. No. 1
 
Topic: Conservation + Management (Ecosystems-Habitat)
Keywords: habitats, floodplain, floodwaters, marshes, ponds
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