Effects of navigation on the occurrence of plants

Level: Bachelor or Master
Start: Anytime
Project duration: 12 weeks to 6 months
Project form: fieldwork, literature review, modelling
Supervision: Frank Collas
Mail addresses: f.collas@science.ru.nl

Description of the project:

Aquatic plants are important components of many freshwater ecosystems as they provide a habitat for numerous species. The distribution and abundance of aquatic plants depends on natural and anthropogenic influences. One of the main anthropogenic stressors is the high intensity of navigation on rivers. Ship traffic directly affects riverine biota by means of pollution, increased flow velocity, wave production and sediment turbulence.
Due to the open nature of traditional river training structures (groynes), the waves and increased flow velocity caused by each passing ship reaches the river shore resulting in a highly dynamic shore system with low complexity. The wave wash results in a large area where no plants grow. Recently a measure has been built in the river Waal that blocks wave wash which is expected to increase the shore area where plants can grow. However, quantitative data on the area with wave wash is limited.
Thus the aim of this project is 1) to use drone imagery to map the distance of plants to the shore in a groyne field and behind longitudinal training dams, 2) to review habitat requirements of shore plants and 3) to construct SSDs for several habitat requirements.