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Title: Towards catchment classification in data-scarce regions

Assessing spatial variation in hydrologic processes can help to inform freshwater management and advance ecological understanding, yet many areas lack sufficient flow records on which to base classifications. Seeking to address this challenge, we apply concepts developed in data-rich settings to public, global data in order to demonstrate a broadly replicable approach to characterizing hydrologic variation. The proposed approach groups the basins associated with reaches in a river network according to key environmental drivers of hydrologic conditions. This initial study examines Colorado (USA), where long-term streamflow records permit comparison to previously distinguished flow regime types, and the Republic of Ecuador, where data limitations preclude such analysis. The flow regime types assigned to gages in Colorado corresponded reasonably well to the classes distinguished from environmental features. The divisions in Ecuador reflected major known biophysical gradients while also providing a higher resolution supplement to an existing depiction of freshwater ecoregions. Although freshwater policy and management decisions occur amidst uncertainty and imperfect knowledge, this classification framework offers a rigorous and transferrable means to distinguish catchments in data-scarce regions. The maps and attributes of the resulting ecohydrologic classes offer a departure point for additional study and data collection programs such as the placement ofmore » stations in under-monitored classes, and the divisions may serve as a preliminary template with which to structure conservation efforts such as environmental flow assessments.« less
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  1. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States)
  2. Florida International Univ., Miami, FL (United States)
  3. Univ. of San Francisco, Quito (Ecuador)
  4. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Ecohydrology; Journal ID: ISSN 1936-0584
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
13 HYDRO ENERGY; classification; hydropower; stream ecology; water; dams; Ecuador; Colorado
OSTI Identifier: