Ecohydraulics Class - WATS 6900

Course Overview

Welcome to the Ecohydraulics Course Website! The primary audience for this site are the students enrolled in WATS 6900 - Ecohyraulics at Utah State University. However, the resources found here may be of general interest to a broader ecosystem management and restoration community, including practitioners, managers, stakeholders and researchers.

In past versions of this class it was taught as a fluvial hydraulics and ecohydraulic course, with a stronger emphasis on fluvial hydraulics. Since then, multiple textbooks on Ecohydraulics have been published (Pasternack 2011; Maddock et al. 2013) & , the Journal of Ecohydraulics was established (Kemp & Katopodis, 2016), and the International Symposium of Ecohydraulics has met for the 12th time!

Organization of this Course

When reflecting on what to cover in this graduate course in the Department of Watershed Sciences we knew we’d be targeting a mixed audience of students including:

  • ecologists and fisheries biologists in our own department with little of the requisite background in hydraulics, open-channel flow, physics, calculus and/or fluvial geomorphology, as well as:
  • hydrologists and geomorphologists, with little background in fisheries and/or ecology, as well as:
  • civil engineers with background in hydraulics and fluid mechanics, but maybe limited exposure to fluvial hydraulics in natural systems and lacking background in biology and ecology

We were worried about focusing on developing specific and narrow skillsets in running hydraulic models to drive ecohydraulic models, and giving students lots of experience in just a few specific flavor of ecohydraulic models that are typically used to look at fish habitat at reach-scales (e.g. resolving habitat at scale fish use it, but only spanning a reach). We decided instead to focus on a specific example that would expose students to the broader management and ecological questions of managing fish populations through studying their habitat (i.e. ecohydraulics). We felt this would expose students to a broader swath of concepts and literature, while giving some experience interpreting and running a large diversity of model types from different disciplines necessary to address a population-scale question, while leveraging the mechanistic insights of what are typically finer-scale lines of inquiry in ecohydraulics.

As such, we organized the syllabus around an in-depth review of a paper we (Wheaton et al. 2017) published on Upscaling Site-Scale Ecohydraulic Models to Inform Salmonid Population-Level Life Cycle Modelling and Restoration Actions – Lessons from the Columbia River Basin, based on our experience in running the Columbia Habitat Monitoring Program to explore whether ESA-listed anadromous salmon populations could be recovered through tributary habitat improvements.

Instruction Team

Nicolaas Bouwes3,2,1

Aquatic Ecologist, Adjunct Professor

Joseph Wheaton1,2

Associate Professor, Ecogeomorphologist

Instructor Affiliations





For students enrolled, all course materials can be found on this site, whereas you will submit assignments, track your grades and engage in collaborations on our Canvas Course Pages:

Spring 2020 Canvas WATS 6900 Course

COVID-19 Spring 2020 Backdrop

USU’s COVID-19 Policies

Utah State University began teaching remotely on Wednesday, March 18 to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Classes on Friday, March 13 through Tuesday, March 17 were canceled to allow faculty members time to move their classes into the online learning environment.

Past Versions of Ecohyraulics

References on this Page