Development of a decision support tool for water and resource management using biotic, abiotic, and hydrological assessments of Topock Marsh, Arizona

Product Type: 

Open-file Report

Year: 

2016

Author(s): 

Holmquist-Johnson, Chris, Leanne Hanson, Joan Daniels, Colin Talbert and Jeanette Haegele

Suggested Citation: 

Holmquist-Johnson, Chris, Leanne Hanson, Joan Daniels, Colin Talbert and Jeanette Haegele. 2016. Development of a decision support tool for water and resource management using biotic, abiotic, and hydrological assessments of Topock Marsh, Arizona. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1065, 121 p. https://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161065.

Topock Marsh is a large wetland adjacent to the Colorado River and the main feature of Havasu National Wildlife Refuge (Havasu NWR) in southern Arizona. In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Bureau of Reclamation began a project to improve water management capabilities at Topock Marsh and protect habitats and species. Initial construction required a drawdown, which caused below-average inflows and water depths in 2010–11. U.S. Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) scientists collected an assemblage of biotic, abiotic, and hydrologic data from Topock Marsh during the drawdown and immediately after, thus obtaining valuable information needed by FWS.

Building upon that work, FORT developed a decision support system (DSS) to better understand ecosystem health and function of Topock Marsh under various hydrologic conditions. The DSS was developed using a spatially explicit geographic information system package of historical data, habitat indices, and analytical tools to synthesize outputs for hydrologic time periods. Deliverables include high-resolution orthorectified imagery of Topock Marsh; a DSS tool that can be used by Havasu NWR to compare habitat availability associated with three hydrologic scenarios (dry, average, wet years); and this final report which details study results. This project, therefore, has addressed critical FWS management questions by integrating ecologic and hydrologic information into a DSS framework. This DSS will assist refuge management to make better informed decisions about refuge operations and better understand the ecological results of those decisions by providing tools to identify the effects of water operations on species-specific habitat and ecological processes. While this approach was developed to help FWS use the best available science to determine more effective water management strategies at Havasu NWR, technologies used in this study could be applied elsewhere within the region.

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Chris Holmquist-Johnson
Chris Holmquist-JohnsonLeanne HansonJoan S. (Thullen) DanielsColin TalbertJeanette (Carpenter) Haegele