Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Integrating sonar and aerial photogrammetry to quantify habitat persistence for shoal dwelling fishes and invertebrates in relation to flow prescriptions.


June 2017 - June 2019


Instream flow incremental methodologies are hydraulic or hydrologic models that are applied at the reach level and are valuable for evaluating the variation in physical and hydraulic habitat units in relation to variation in flow regimes. Implementation of instream flow incremental methodologies (IFIM) have been used in several Alabama river systems for decision support to determine flow-habitat relations for at risk species; however, technology and knowledge of ecohydrology has far surpassed the methods and scientific inference that was applied in the past. Our approach will be to integrate both existing remote sensing technologies, sidescan-sonar and drone imagery with 2D and 3D hydraulic models to deliver a visual tool that can quantify the effects of instream habitat relative to variation in flow regimes. This project will be conducted in the Tallapoosa River, Alabama, and the ecohydrology decision support system developed in the project will be valuable for informing the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and other stakeholders (NGOs, USFWS, USNPS, Alabama Power) consequences of various flow presciptions to diverse fish and invertebrate communities below a hydropeaking dam undergoing FERC re-licensing.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 1

Masters Students: 6

Phd Students: 4

Post Docs: 1

University Staff: 29

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 14

Scientific Publications: 29

Presentations: 87



  • Elise IrwinPrincipal Investigator
  • Thorsten KnappenbergerPrincipal Investigator

Funding Agencies

  • USDOI Geological Survey


Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 
  2. Auburn University
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Geological Survey
  5. Wildlife Management Institute