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Water: Recovery Potential

Recovery Potential Indicators

Overview: Selecting and Using Recovery Potential Indicators

Indicators Overview

This section of the website contains reference materials on recovery potential indicators: their definitions, relevance to restorability, data sources, measurement methods, and relevant points from the technical literature. Additional scientific information is always welcome from users who contact us.

Restoration research and practice have shown that many, very diverse factors affect the likelihood of restoration success, and these can be grouped on the basis of their ecological, stressor, and social influences on restorability. The Indicators Master List (MS Excel xlsx, 86K) identifies nearly 200 candidate recovery potential indicators that can be considered, but a screening assessment needs to select only a small number of the most relevant indicators in the ecological, stressor, and social context classes.

Selecting five to ten indicators in each of the three classes is not only influenced by what can be measured accurately with the available data, but also by the need to choose indicators that each provide a different 'piece of the puzzle.' Different types of indicators that are all related to restorability provide multiple lines of evidence for estimating recovery potential. An effort should be made to measure indicators that are not all related to the same key component of their indicator class (e.g., ecological indicator selection should include more than just different measurements of watershed land cover). It may not be possible to address all of the key components, but the selection of indicators should include as many as are feasible. Clicking on each component brings up related indicators.

For descriptions of all indicators, please download the Indicator Summaries Table (PDF) (49 pp, 565K, About PDF) or proceed to the ecological indicator summaries.

Key components for ecological indicator selection include:

  1. Watershed natural structure
  2. Corridor and shorelands stability
  3. Flow and channel dynamics
  4. Biotic community integrity
  5. Aquatic connectivity
  6. Ecological history

Key components for stressor indicator selection include:

  1. Watershed-level disturbance
  2. Corridor or shorelands disturbance
  3. Hydrologic alteration
  4. Biotic or climatic risks
  5. Severity of pollutant loading
  6. Legacy of past, trajectory of future land use

Key components for social context indicator selection include:

  1. Leadership, organization and engagement
  2. Protective ownership or regulation
  3. Level of information, certainty and planning
  4. Restoration cost, difficulty, or complexity
  5. Socio-economic considerations
  6. Human health, beneficial uses, recognition and incentives

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