Remnants of the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River in Washington, site of the largest dam removal project in U.S. history, 5 years after its removal. Photo courtesy of Jeff Duda, U.S. Geological Survey.
One of the main goals of dam decommissioning and removal is the recovery of aquatic and riparian ecosystems. But it is difficult to predict how an entire ecosystem will recover after dam removal, which can lead to unforeseen challenges when managing the recovering ecosystem. Station scientist Ryan Bellmore and his colleagues synthesized data from many studies on dam recovery and ecological theory into models that identify the key physical and biological links underlying ecosystem response to dam removal.
The results of this study offer further insight for managers into the connections between the myriad components and pathways that determine ecosystem response to dam removal in different locations. These models can be used by managers to trace the important causal pathways that determine ecosystem recovery after dam removal at a specific location and make informed decisions to meet recovery goals.