Assessment of flow–ecology relationships for environmental flow standards: a synthesis focused on the southeast USA
Environmental flow standards are a management tool that can help to protect the ecosystem services sustained by rivers. Although environmental flow requirements can be assessed using a variety of methods, most of these methods require establishing relationships between flow and habitat of species of concern. Here, we conducted a synthesis of past flow–ecology studies in the southeast USA. For each state or interstate river basin, we used the published data to determine the flow metrics that resulted in the greatest changes in ecological metrics, and the ecological metrics that were most sensitive to hydrologic alteration. The flow metrics that were most important in preserving ecological metrics were high-flow duration and frequency, 3-day maximum and minimum, and number of reversals. The ecological metrics most sensitive to hydrologic alteration were mostly related to presence or absence of key indicator species.