Model-based evaluation of urban river restoration: Conflicts between sensitive fish species and recreational users
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSustainability. 2018, 10 (6), 1747 10.3390/su10061747
Urban rivers are socioecological systems, and restored habitats may be attractive to both sensitive species and recreationists. Understanding the potential conflicts between ecological and recreational values is a critical issue for the development of a sustainable river-management plan. Habitat models are very promising tools for the ecological evaluation of river restoration projects that are already concluded, ongoing, or even to be planned. With our paper, we make a first attempt at integrating recreational user pressure into habitat modeling. The objective of this study was to analyze whether human impact is likely to hinder the re-establishment of a target species despite the successful restoration of physical habitat structures in the case of the restoration of the Isar River in Munich (Germany) and the target fish species Chondostroma nasus L. Our analysis combined high-resolution 2D hydrodynamic modeling with mapping of recreational pressure and used an expert-based procedure for modeling habitat suitability. The results are twofold: (1) the restored river contains suitable physical habitats for population conservation but has low suitability for recruitment; (2) densely used areas match highly suitable habitats for C. nasus. In the future, the integrated modeling procedure presented here may allow ecological refuge for sensitive target species to be included in the design of restoration and may help in the development of visitor-management plans to safeguard biodiversity and recreational ecosystem services.