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The Effect of Flow Regulation on the Spatial Distribution and Dynamics of Channel Geomorphic Units (CGU’s) in the Soča River, Slovenia.

By Ian Maddock, N. Smolar-Žvanut and Graham Hill


This research examines the impact of flow regulation on the spatial distribution and dynamics of physical habitats or channel geomorphic units (CGU) of the Soca River, an upland river system in Slovenia. In order to assess the impact of flow alteration on the spatial pattern of CGU type, size, hydraulics and distribution, a river channel survey was completed along three reaches (totalling 14.3km), i.e. an unregulated stretch and two regulated reaches (with reduced flows). In addition, one regulated reach was re-surveyed at different discharges to investigate the dynamics of CGU’s and their relationship with flow. \ud \ud CGU’s were classified and mapped on foot and from a boat using a combination of visual assessment and physical measurements of velocity and depth in each CGU. Mapping-grade GPS was used to locate CGU boundaries to sub-metre accuracy, and the application of GIS (MapInfo) enabled the description and analysis of the longitudinal distribution of CGU’s along each reach.\ud \ud The effect of flow regulation on the hydraulic character of the river becomes apparent by highlighting significant differences in the dominant types of CGU’s present between the regulated and unregulated reaches. Reduced flows from river regulation also significantly reduces the size of CGU’s, alters their hydraulic character, and affects the longitudinal distribution of types by creating greater habitat fragmentation. This work also highlights the need to assess CGU’s along continuous stretches of river in order to understand the nature and dynamics of river habitats

Topics: G1, GB, GE
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