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USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral  Research Fellowship Program

14-47. Ecological Flow: Consequences of Hydroscape Domestication and Desirability of Hydroscape Restoration and Management

A hydroscape is a landscape structured by water.  In a hydroscape, water flow determines the cover, depth, and duration of water, other physical-chemical features, and the spatial and temporal dynamics of populations, communities, and ecosystems.  Globally, most hydroscapes have been altered by man-built structures, water management and diversion, and other social-economic activities.  The compositions, spatial patterns, and dynamics of these hydroscapes have been re-configured intentionally or unintentionally by these domesticating processes with unintended consequences for populations, communities, and ecosystems.

In order to correct or reduce these unintended, negative, ecological impacts, aquatic restoration has become widespread in the last few decades.  Ecological restoration needs to consider spatial processes and patterns at the scale of hydroscape.  However, spatial targets are rarely available for ecological restorations at the hydroscape scale.  Most ecological studies have focused on the streamflow and a few components of ecosystems.  Few studies have examined the general patterns in the spatial configuration of hydroscapes.

Case studies have shown that under human influences, frequently, flow peaks decrease, the number of channels declines, channels migrate less, channels become narrower, and flood plains and wetlands diminish.  However, some studies have also documented that flood magnitudes can increase, bank erosion may accelerate, and thus river channel widths may increase. A vast knowledge gap exists in the understanding of ecological flow, consequences of hydroscape domestication, and the desirable spatial features of hydroscape restoration and management.  Better syntheses and predictive models are needed to provide guidance for water management and aquatic restoration.

Key knowledge gaps that may be explored through research under this Opportunity include the spatial influences of the novel, anthropogenic environments on water flows and hydroscape dynamics and how critical parameters of man-built structures and human activities (flow alternation) interact with other physical and biogeochemical processes to impact ecosystem processes and landscape patterns at hydroscape scales.

Questions to be addressed may include:

  1. What spatial hydroscape metrics are most sensitive to hydroscape domestication?
  2. How do human activities influence the hydrologic and hydroscape parameters, their interactions, and the consequent ecosystem processes and patterns? 
  3. How do spatial parameters of hydroscapes influence populations, communities, and ecosystems?

We seek a postdoctoral scientist to investigate the impacts of water management, anthropogenic structures and social-economic activities on water flows, hydroscape structures, and ecosystems by conducting a synthesis and constructing a conceptual model of ecological flow at a hydroscape scale.  Candidates should have expertise in: hydro-geomorphology, landscape ecology, hydrology, ecology, or geography.  Strong skills in spatial analysis would be preferred although not required.  Top candidates will have demonstrated successes working in interdisciplinary teams of researchers to synthesize science from different fields.

Applicants are encouraged to consider utilizing large data sets, including: USGS Surface-Water Data for the Nation,; USDA's National Agriculture Imagery Program,; USACE’s National Levee Database,;  FEMA’s Nations Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS); USGS’ National Aerial Photography Program,; other satellite imagery databases, such as Bing, Quickbird, or GeoEye; USGS National Water Quality Assessment Data Warehouse,;  USGS Aquatic Bioassessment Data for the Nation,; and the data set of woody riparian vegetation near selected stream gages of the Fort Collins Science Center,  These data sets could be used to conduct spatial analyses and syntheses, and to develop new models.

Applicant proposals should briefly describe the approaches to be used to conduct synthesis, to investigate spatial processes and patterns, and to develop conceptual models addressing the potential ecological consequences of hydroscape domestication. If appropriate, candidate proposals should also discuss integration of their study with previous research on environmental flows, instream flows, riparian ecology and watershed studies, and possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration with hydrologists, geomorphologists, ecologists, and other scientists to analyze the spatial-temporal patterns of hydroscape under the influence of water management and hydroscape domestication, and to develop a conceptual model of ecological flow.

Proposed Duty Station: Fort Collins, CO

 Areas of Ph.D.: Aquatic ecology, landscape ecology, hydrology, geomorphology, geography, or related disciplines (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines but with knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity will be considered).

Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications – Research Ecologist, Research Hydrologist, Research Biologist, Research Geomorphologist, Research Geographer.

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above. However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of theposition will be made by the Human Resources specialist).

Research Advisors: Quan Dong, (970) 226-9175,; Jonathan Friedman, (303) 541-3017,; Greg Auble, (970) 226-9448,; LeRoy Poff (Colorado State U), (970) 491-2079,

Human Resources Office Contact: Jennifer Daberkow, (303) 236-9566,

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Last modified: 17:58:10 Tue 23 Jul 2013
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