The Cosumnes River is the last river without major dams on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Thus, it is one of the few systems in which the ecological impacts of natural variation in seasonal flows can be studied. In addition, the Cosumnes River Preserve occupies large stretches of the river’s lower reaches and has sought, by means of levee breaches and other strategies to reinstate seasonal flooding, restore riparian vegetation, and improve conditions for native plant and animal species.
Two projects at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences focused primarily on the relationship between hydrologic conditions and aquatic ecosystems, emphasizing the connection between aquatic and terrestrial systems in floodplain environments.
For example, the researchers have looked at the relationship between restoration activities and the spread of invasive species; measured and modeled the surface and subsurface water balance to better understand the interaction between groundwater and riparian zone processes; and examined the links between aquatic and terrestrial habitats via a study of interaction through food webs. In addition, building on a decade of time-series and spatial data, they have continued to monitor birds as an indicator of restoration success.
Reports and papers to date are posted at: http://baydelta.ucdavis.edu