Channel Morphology

Citizen Scientists conducts channel morphology measurements as a component of the Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol (OSAP). This work involves the examination of channel size, shape and substrate composition. As these three river characteristics change in the watercourse, so does the resulting type of habitat for aquatic species. The resulting changes affect the quality and the specific type of habitat available for aquatic organisms including fish and benthic invertebrates. This examination over time leads to an improved understanding of the aquatic ecosystem’s overall health, structure and composition. Conducting this work will help to pin point the reasons for observed changes in the river’s health and lead to potential solutions to help repair, restore or prevent these changes.

The examination of the stream’s physical form can vary in scale and intensity and can be conducted by both experienced and inexperienced volunteers. The tools used are simple and so are the methods. As well, the designed protocols are easy to learn and follow. Although the data collection and methods are simple the examination of the data can be very detailed and becomes more powerful when paired with the other biological and physical data that is collected.

It is important to make connections between what is observed in the river in terms of channel size and shape and the overall hydrology of the river. It is ultimately the hydrology of the river that determines its overall size and shape (its morphology) and the resulting changes observed in the biology of the river.

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