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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

How Do Biota Respond to Additional Physical Restoration of Restored Streams?

Nilsson, Christer; Sarneel, Judith M.; Palm, Daniel; Gardestrom, Johanna; Pilotto, Francesca; Polvi, Lina E.; Lind, Lovisa; Holmqvist, Daniel; Lundqvist, Hans


Restoration of channelized streams by returning coarse sediment from stream edges to the wetted channel has become a common practice in Sweden. Yet, restoration activities do not always result in the return of desired biota. This study evaluated a restoration project in the Vindel River in northern Sweden in which practitioners further increased channel complexity of previously restored stream reaches by placing very large boulders (>1m), trees (>8m), and salmonid spawning gravel from adjacent upland areas into the channels. One reach restored with basic methods and another with enhanced methods were selected in each of ten different tributaries to the main channel. Geomorphic and hydraulic complexity was enhanced but the chemical composition of riparian soils and the communities of riparian plants and fish did not exhibit any clear responses to the enhanced restoration measures during the first 5years compared to reaches restored with basic restoration methods. The variation in the collected data was among streams instead of between types of restored reaches. We conclude that restoration is a disturbance in itself, that immigration potential varies across landscapes, and that biotic recovery processes in boreal river systems are slow. We suggest that enhanced restoration has to apply a catchment-scale approach accounting for connectivity and availability of source populations, and that low-intensity monitoring has to be performed over several decades to evaluate restoration outcomes.


fish; geomorphic complexity; hydraulics; ice; landscape scale; restoration; riparian chemistry; riparian plants; Sweden

Published in

2017, volume: 20, number: 1, pages: 144-162

Authors' information

Nilsson, Christer
Umeå University
Sarneel, Judith M.
Umeå University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Gardeström, Johanna
Umeå University
Pilotto, Francesca
Umeå University
Polvi, Lina E.
Umeå University
Lind, Lovisa
Umeå University
Holmqvist, Daniel
Ume-Vindelälvens Fiskeråd
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Fish and Aquacultural Science
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

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