The Rushing Rivers Institute provides a variety of services applicable to:
Instream Flow Studies
Fish and invertebrate habitat assessment,
Watershed and local scale river restoration planning,
Ecological feasibility studies of dam removal,
Nature-like fishway design
Impact of Climate Change on rivers and streams
Technical Assistance provided by employees of Rushing Rivers Institute is in assessment of instream habitat for fish and invertebrates, simulation modeling as well as in the design of nature-like fishways. Through the growing pool of our Associates and broad international contacts we can also refer you to experts with expertise in other areas and/or convenient locations.
We are offering an independent technical review of the quality of environmental impact assessment projects, specifically with regard to the impact on the aquatic fauna due to water
withdrawals, hydropower, landfills and development.
We advise natural resources agencies, industries and conservationists on the sustainable, ecologically protective, and scientifically sound methods for use of water and aquatic resources. We serve on advisory committees for state and federal agencies on the development of resource use rules and regulations. -Data collection/preparation
We have great experience in data collection on streams and rivers, necessary equipment, survey designs and logistics. We know for a fact that the fieldwork reality differs from what you imagine in your office. Our advise in the early project phase will help you save money and reduce frustration.
We apply and develop models necessary for the description of riverine habitat to determine the ecological status, quantify the effect of various restoration measures, flow management as well as predict the impact of development and climate change on the aquatic fauna.
-MesoHABASIM- Mesohabitat Simulation Modeling using SIM-Stream
This model has been developed by a scientist currently working for Rushing Rivers and it is an enhancement of micro-habitat models such as PHABSIM or River2D.
MesoHABSIM allows for quick assessment of a habitat’s conditions for whole communities of fish and invertebrates in the long stretches of the rivers. The model includes sophisticated habitat time series analysis investigating not only the magnitude of protected flows, but also the frequency and duration of events when the habitat is limited. The SIM-Stream software facilitates the model computation, allows comparing restoration scenarios and provides management tools such as ACTograms and Habitat meters allowing continuous monitoring of habitat status (for example see Pomperaug.org).
-River 2D and PHABSIM
For site specific studies we compute River2D and PHABSIM models for fish and macro-invertebrates applying enhanced (multivariate) habitat use criteria. We also conduct comparative and combination studies using all of the above models.
We use USGS developed Precipitation Runoff Modeling System to simulate the surface water hydrology of rivers and streams as an input into habitat models.
We conducted numerous fish surveys using electro-fishing and underwater observations. Assessment of fish populations, fish abundances, biomass, age structures on small and large rivers belong to the standard techniques and applications of our team.
-Target and Reference Fish Community assessment
We largely automated the process of determining the composition and structure of native fauna in rivers that offers a baseline for assessment of ecological status of rivers and streams and determination of restoration endpoints.
-Macro-invertebrates and mussel, odonate and amphibian surveys
We can conduct and facilitate the qualitative and quantitative surveys of invertebrates identifying aquatic insects and freshwater mussels. We collaborate with scientist and consultants specializing in these animal groups.
-Habitat needs of fish and invertebrates
These surveys are designed to determine what habitats are frequented more often by fish communities and invertebrate fauna. We sample large amounts of quadrants with specific habitat characteristics for fish and invertebrates. This data serves as training data for physical habitat models.
These rapid assessment surveys aim to define key physical characteristics of rivers and streams, delineate sections of particular character and obvious human impacts. These are either on-the-ground or aerial imaging surveys conducted in collaboration with Research Aviation.
o Hydromorphological Unit (HMU) attributes
Using a gps-linked handheld PC we annotate high resolution aerial imagery with distinct river habitat units while collecting information on 34 attributes (i.e. woody debris or undercut banks) which are later built into a habitat model using our Sim-Stream software.
o Hydraulic Information
Within each HMU we collect at least 7 depth and velocity measurement as well as grain-size and embeddedness information. This data is also needed to develop the Sim-Stream model. Depth and velocity measurements are taken using a Hydo-bios keel, Marsh McBirney, or ADCP and are recorded using handheld PCs.
This detailed survey of physical characteristics follows the protocols of IFIM describing in detail the river bed topography, as well as depth, flow velocity and fish cover attributes in each survey point. The data serves as an input for hydraulic models associated with PHABSIOM and River2D habitat models.
We have three methods to collect bathymetry data which can be combined to meet project goals and field site conditions. In shallow water we use traditional surveying techniques and a Total Station to acquire the necessary spatial data. In deeper water we utilize two techniques depending on the required vertical accuracy of the final product. A typically lower-cost and quicker option would utilize a canoe mounted Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler and survey grade GPS. A higher cost with a greater vertical resolution option (2cm) would utilize a Radio transmitted Kinematic (RTK) GPS system combined with an EcoSonar sonde.
We apply traditional surveying techniques to a river environment. Using local benchmarks or establishing our own we collect precise positional data in the floodplain, river banks or bed.
-Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP)
The ADCP provides data on depth and current velocity. It was designed for use in determining stream discharge along a cross section, but we use it more frequently for rapid determination of depth and column velocity for use with MesoHABSIM. Our ADCP is a Sontek Riversurveyor mini and has an effective depth range of about 0.4 to 5m.
We have performed numerous watershed temperature surveys using various types of Onset® data loggers or infrared aerial imagery. Studies involve assessment of installation locations, development of longitudinal profiles, studies of thermal anomalies, assessment of thermal forcing and refuge.
It has become standard procedure in our projects to install pressure loggers throughout our study area. This gives us information about temperature and pressure which can be converted to river stage at the instrument. This information is then used to track rainfall events or dam releases along the longitudinal profile.
Rushing Rivers develops a software facilitating various aspects of river habitat modeling.
SIM-Stream software is a front-end of an Access Database performing data management and calculations of habitat models.
River Lab is a suite of input forms that use photo annotation technology for habitat surveys with ARC-Pad,
River-pixelator is a software for aerial image pixel classification and gathering data from sensor networks.
-River sensor network
We are currently deploying a number of environmental sensors continuously measuring stream habitat conditions as a sensor network to be connected to the world wide web.
Rushing Rivers offers a series of courses teaching application and use the MesoHABSIM technique to students and professionals. We offer short introduction courses at meetings and conferences as well as week long detailed training in theory, data collection and software use (See our course catalog for more detail). We also promote curricula for river restoration engineers and offer guest lectures on the status of riverine environment and river science.
-Advocacy, Information campaigns, Events, River walks/canoe trips
The scientists from Rushing Rivers consider it a moral obligation of river scientists to take the stand in the protection of these precious and highly important resources of our planet. We recognize that this will not happen without support of the society and consider public education and information campaign absolutely crucial. We are organizing information campaigns, recreational and educational events for public and legislators to inform the society about the need for the protection and more intelligent management of these precious resources.