Quantitative modelling of habitats for fish, macroinvertebrates, and macrophytes: Assessing potential impacts of hydropower’s proposed environmental flows and climate change in the Saint John River
Ecohydraulic modeling has become a powerful tool in river science, particularly in the management of regulated systems. For example, habitat modeling is used to predict effects of habitat alteration on aquatic organisms, since it links abiotic processes on multiple spatial scales with biological habitat requirements. This methodology enables predicting the spatial distribution and abundance of biota in a river. The study evaluates the effects of management scenarios regarding the future of the aging Mactaquac Hydroelectricity Generating Station (MGS), on its surrounding ecosystem, the Saint John River. Here, we implement a novel approach, combining high resolution hydrodynamic modelling with biota habitat predictions, to quantify existing and future habitats in the river, considering the effects of dam operation and hydro-climatically driven flow regime variations. Results gained from this study will be used as a model system for dam decommissioning and river restoration projects facing similar issues.