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Learning Exchange

How much model complexity is needed to make environmental flow recommendations?

Dr. Kyle McKay, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental Laboratory
22 April 2020

  • Bio Dr. Kyle McKay, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental Laboratory

    Ecological models inform many aspects of river management decisions, such as environmental flow analysis or river restoration design; yet we know little about how model resolution and complexity could ultimately affect management recommendations. Using a site on the Middle Oconee River in Athens, Georgia, we evaluate the effects of varying input data resolution (quantity of field data), sampling design (random vs. stratified cross-sections), and model complexity (1-dimensional vs. 2-dimensional models) on environmental flow recommendations made with a generalized fish habitat model. Results highlight the importance of modeling choices in interpretation and communication of management recommendations.

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