Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 295–316 | Cite as

Hydrologic and geomorphic considerations in restoration of river-floodplain connectivity in a highly altered river system, Lower Missouri River, USA

  • Robert B. Jacobson
  • Tyler P. Janke
  • Jason J. Skold
Original Paper


Planning for restoration of river-floodplain systems requires understanding how often and how much of a floodplain may be inundated, and how likely the floodplain is to retain the water once flooded. These factors depend fundamentally on hydrology and geomorphology of the channel and floodplain. We discuss application of an index of river-floodplain connectivity, the Land Capability Potential Index (LCPI), to regional-scale restoration planning along 600 km of the Lower Missouri River. The LCPI integrates modeled water-surface elevations, floodplain topography, and soils to index relative wetness of floodplain patches. Geomorphic adjustment of the Lower Missouri River to impoundment and channel engineering has altered the natural relations among hydrology, geomorphology, and floodplain soils, and has resulted in a regional upstream to downstream gradient in connectivity potential. As a result, flow-regime management is limited in its capacity to restore floodplain ecosystems. The LCPI provides a tool for identifying and mapping floodplain restoration potential, accounting for the geomorphic adjustment. Using simple criteria, we illustrate the utility of LCPI-like approaches in regional planning for restoration of plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides) communities, hydrologically connected floodplain wetlands, and seasonal floodplain wetlands.


Wetland restoration Fluvial geomorphology Flow regime Dams Cottonwoods 



Data used in this manuscript were compiled using a funding partnership that includes the U.S. Geological Survey Ecosystems Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River Recovery Program, and The Nature Conservancy Missouri River Program.

Funding for analysis and writing was provided by the U.S. Geological Survey and The Nature Conservancy.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert B. Jacobson
    • 1
  • Tyler P. Janke
    • 2
  • Jason J. Skold
    • 2
  1. 1.Columbia Environmental Research CenterUS Geological SurveyColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Missouri River ProgramThe Nature ConservancyOmahaUSA

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