Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Emily J. Whitney; J. Ryan Bellmore; Joseph R. Benjamin; Chris E. Jordan; Jason B. Dunham; Michael Newsom; Matt Nahorniak
    Date: 2020
    Source: Food Webs. 25: e00160.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (3.0 MB)


    Watershed assessments have become common for prioritizing restoration in river networks. These assessments primarily focus on geomorphic conditions of rivers but less frequently incorporate non-geomorphic abiotic factors such as water chemistry and temperature, and biotic factors such as the structure of food webs. Using a dynamic food web model that integrates physical and ecological environmental conditions of rivers, we simulated how juvenile salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) biomass responded to restoration at twelve sites distributed across the Methow River (Washington, USA), ranging from headwater tributaries to mainstem reaches. We explored responses to three common river restoration strategies: (1) physical habitat modification, (2) nutrient supplementation, and (3) increased riparian vegetation cover. We also simulated how different food web configurations that exist in salmon-bearing streams, such as the presence of ‘non-target’ fishes and ‘armored’ predation resistant invertebrates, could mediate restoration outcomes. Some locations in the river network experienced relatively large increases in modeled fish biomass with restoration, whereas other locations were almost entirely unresponsive. Spatial variation in restoration outcomes was primarily controlled by non-geomorphic environmental conditions, such as nutrient availability, water temperature, and stream canopy cover. Restoration responses also varied significantly with different food web configurations, suggesting that as the structure of food webs varies across river networks, so too could the outcome of restoration. These findings illustrate that ecological responses to restoration may exhibit substantial spatial variation within river networks, resulting from heterogeneity in environmental conditions that are commonly overlooked—but which can and should be considered—in restoration planning and prioritization.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Whitney, Emily J.; Bellmore, J. Ryan; Benjamin, Joseph R.; Jordan, Chris E.; Dunham, Jason B.; Newsom, Michael; Nahorniak, Matt. 2020. Beyond sticks and stones: Integrating physical and ecological conditions into watershed restoration assessments using a food web modeling approach. Food Webs. 25: e00160.


    Google Scholar


    Food webs, river restoration, ecological modeling, Pacific salmon, riverscapes.

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page