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A dynamic dendritic connectivity assessment tool for the planning and design of barrier mitigation strategies in river networks

King, Myron; van Zyll de Jong, Michael; Cowx, Ian G.


Myron King

Michael van Zyll de Jong

Ian G. Cowx


Context: Increasing fragmentation of rivers caused by barriers continues to impact watersheds, especially disruption of fish migration patterns and loss of access to spawning and nursery habitats. Infrastructure expansion and ageing installations exacerbate the problem, reducing effectiveness of management in addressing barriers. Reduction in watershed connectivity requires effective tools capable of guiding river managers in remediation actions. Objectives: Our objective was to develop a watershed dynamic connectivity assessment tool (D-CAT), a customizable geospatial tool capable of river analyses at varying watershed scales. The tool uses proven watershed connectivity modelling combined with an effective evaluation approach to provide measurable change model outcomes. Methods: Three different barrier encounter scenarios were examined using the D-CAT tool to study watershed connectivity. The tool was tested on a watershed area of the River Derwent, a major tributary of the River Trent system in the United Kingdom. Results: For each barrier scenario tested, the D-CAT tool indicated which barriers could be removed or modified to provide the greatest watershed connectivity improvement. The tool provided a prioritized list of barriers for each scenario under varying choices for the number of barriers to remove, demonstrating the utility of the D-CAT tool to planning and design. Conclusions: The D-CAT tool is built to handle geographical data and variable user input, allowing in-depth watershed connectivity analysis. The tool forecasts the cumulative effects of alternative change scenarios for watershed connectivity, providing prioritization and optimization of removal strategies. The D-CAT tool offers significant support for landscape management towards better barrier removal/remediation decisions.


King, M., van Zyll de Jong, M., & Cowx, I. G. (2023). A dynamic dendritic connectivity assessment tool for the planning and design of barrier mitigation strategies in river networks. Landscape Ecology,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 26, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 20, 2023
Publication Date Mar 20, 2023
Deposit Date Mar 31, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 3, 2023
Journal Landscape Ecology
Print ISSN 0921-2973
Electronic ISSN 1572-9761
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords River rehabilitation; Watershed ecosystem; Decision framework; Habitat improvement; Dendritic connectivity; Ecosystem modelling
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Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2023.<br /> Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

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