Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Ocean, Coastal, and Earth Sciences
Dr. Alejandro Fierro-Cabo
Dr. Carlos E. Cintra-Buenrostro
Dr. Jude A. Benavides
Resacas are ancient distributary channels of the lower Rio Grande River historically serving as floodwater drainage pathways onto the Laguna Madre, Texas. Resacas provide numerous ecosystem services and critical habitat for many species. Mainly influenced by urbanization, integrating a multimetric index for assessing and monitoring resaca ecosystem health is required for adaptive management. The Resaca Health Index (RHI) integrates structural and functional components: (1) nonredundant metrics describing fish communities (Fish Community Index); (2) Trophic State Index derived from Secchi depth; (3) decay constant from riparian vegetation leaf litter decomposing in the water column; and (4) a riparian quality index based on vegetation cover, structure, and channel alterations to assess the riparian habitat which directly influences adjacent aquatic environments. The RHI was applied to 11 resacas, correctly ranking them in accordance with known disturbances; making the RHI a tool that may facilitate holistic, science-based solutions for conservation and restoration of resacas.
Lecusay, David Jr., "Assessment and Monitoring of Deltaic Wetlands and Fluvial Systems: Refining and Validating a Multimetric Index of Resaca Ecosystem Health" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 905.