Dry Rivers Research Coordination Network

Life is simply different in the absence of water, especially for life in rivers and streams. And yet half of the Earth’s rivers dry or stop flowing, which are called “intermittent rivers.” Historically intermittent rivers have been understudied or even ignored by researchers studying river ecology or river hydrology, who typically study rivers that always flow. Research has begun to show that the hydrology and ecology of intermittent rivers are very different from rivers that always flow. This means our current scientific understanding of streams and rivers is not accurate, as it is biased towards the half of the Earth’s rivers that continuously flow and against the half that do not. The Dry Rivers Research Coordination Network will organize a series of expert workgroups that will synthesize the growing body of research on intermittent river hydrology and ecology. These workgroups will examine this research to produce generalized frameworks that can explain how intermittent river hydrologic and ecologic systems work. This research is important because intermittent rivers are often overlooked or excluded from water management plans due to uncertainty about their hydrologic and ecological importance. Indeed, there is ongoing controversy regarding whether or not intermittent rivers should be included in the scope of management under US Environmental Protection Agency. This project will run from 2018-2022 and is funded by the National Science Foundation. Collaborators on this project include Katie Costigan, Kate Boersma, Michael Bogan, Thibault Datry, Ken Fritz, Sarah Godsey, Stephanie Kampf, Meryl Mims, Julian Olden, Albert Ruhi, Adam Ward, Margaret Zimmer, Emily Bernhardt, Walter Dodds, Jay Jones, and others. You can follow us on twitter @DryRiversRCN.

 Pigeon Creek, an intermittent stream in the Ouachita National Forest in southeast Oklahoma.

Pigeon Creek, an intermittent stream in the Ouachita National Forest in southeast Oklahoma.

Chasing the Peppered Shiner

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has identified the Peppered Shiner, Notropis perpallidus, as a Tier I species of greatest conservation need.  This is a very rare species restricted to a relatively small geographic region in a few rivers in the south-central United States, and it has not been collected in Oklahoma since 2001. Here we will collaborate with Dr. Bill Matthews, renowned fish ecologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Oklahoma, to conduct targeted surveys for Peppered Shiner in the Kiamichi, Little, Glover, and Mountain Fork Rivers in southeast Oklahoma from 2018-2020. This project is funded by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

 Peppered shiner,  Notoropis perpallidus

Peppered shiner, Notoropis perpallidus