Identifying natural flow regimes using fish communities

Fi John Chang, Wen Ping Tsai, Tzu Ching Wu, Hung kwai Chen, Edwin E. Herricks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modern water resources management has adopted natural flow regimes as reasonable targets for river restoration and conservation. The characterization of a natural flow regime begins with the development of hydrologic statistics from flow records. However, little guidance exists for defining the period of record needed for regime determination. In Taiwan, the Taiwan Eco-hydrological Indicator System (TEIS), a group of hydrologic statistics selected for fisheries relevance, is being used to evaluate ecological flows. The TEIS consists of a group of hydrologic statistics selected to characterize the relationships between flow and the life history of indigenous species. Using the TEIS and biosurvey data for Taiwan, this paper identifies the length of hydrologic record sufficient for natural flow regime characterization. To define the ecological hydrology of fish communities, this study connected hydrologic statistics to fish communities by using methods to define antecedent conditions that influence existing community composition. A moving average method was applied to TEIS statistics to reflect the effects of antecedent flow condition and a point-biserial correlation method was used to relate fisheries collections with TEIS statistics. The resulting fish species-TEIS (FISH-TEIS) hydrologic statistics matrix takes full advantage of historical flows and fisheries data. The analysis indicates that, in the watersheds analyzed, averaging TEIS statistics for the present year and 3 years prior to the sampling date, termed MA(4), is sufficient to develop a natural flow regime. This result suggests that flow regimes based on hydrologic statistics for the period of record can be replaced by regimes developed for sampled fish communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-336
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 28 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Ecohydrology
  • Ecological flow regimes
  • Moving average method
  • Natural flow regime
  • Point-biserial correlation method
  • Taiwan Eco-hydrological Indicator System (TEIS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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