Hydrology and the ecological quality of Scottish river ecosystems

D. J. Gilvear*, K. V. Heal, A. Stephen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Hydrology is a primary control on the ecological quality of river systems, through its influence on flow, channel geomorphology, water quality and habitat availability. Scottish rivers are widely perceived to be of high ecological quality, with abundant flow volumes and high water quality. However, historical and current river flow regulations, and land use change have altered the physical and chemical characteristics of Scottish rivers, with adverse consequences for aquatic biota. Baseline hydrological, geomorphological and water quality conditions in Scottish rivers are thus summarised. The impacts of river regulation and land use change on the hydrology, geomorphology and water quality of Scottish rivers are then discussed. Consequences of these changes for aquatic habitat are examined, with particular reference to the economically significant salmonid species (Salmo salar and Salmo trutta). Policy and management issues relating to the future ecological quality of Scottish rivers are reviewed. These include the impacts of climate change on ecological quality, the calculation and implementation of ecologically acceptable flows, and river restoration and best management practices within integrated catchment planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-159
Number of pages29
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2002

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Floods
  • Land use
  • Management
  • Policy
  • River habitat
  • River regulation
  • Salmonids
  • Scottish rivers


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