Understanding the links between land-use changes and physical stream habitat responses is of increasing importance to guide resource management and stream restoration strategies. Transmission of runoff and sediment to streams can involve complex responses of drainage basins, including time lags, thresholds, and cumulative effects. Land-use induced runoff and sediment yield often combine with channel-scale disturbances that decrease flow resistance and erosion resistance, or increase stream energy. The net effects of these interactions on physical stream habitat—depth, velocity, substrate, cover, and temperature—are a challenge to predict. Improved diagnosis and predictive understanding of future change usually require multifaceted, multi-scale, and multidisciplinary studies based on a firm understanding of the history and processes operating in a drainage basin. The U.S. Geological Survey Federal-State Cooperative Program has been instrumental in fostering studies of the links between land use and stream habitat nationwide.
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