Mapping the temporary and perennial character of whole river networks
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Knowledge of the spatial distribution of temporary and perennial river channels in a whole catchment is important for effective integrated basin management and river biodiversity conservation. However, this information is usually not available or is incomplete. In this study, we present a statistically based methodology to classify river segments from a whole river network (Deva-Cares catchment, Northern Spain) as temporary or perennial. This method is based on an a priori classification of a subset of river segments as temporary or perennial, using field surveys and aerial images, and then running Random Forest models to predict classification membership for the rest of the river network. The independent variables and the river network were derived following a computer-based geospatial simulation of riverine landscapes. The model results show high values of overall accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity for the evaluation of the fitted model to the training and testing data set (?0.9). The most important independent variables were catchment area, area occupied by broadleaf forest, minimum monthly precipitation in August, and average catchment elevation. The final map shows 7525 temporary river segments (1012.5 km) and 3731 perennial river segments (662.5 km). A subsequent validation of the mapping results using River Habitat Survey data and expert knowledge supported the validity of the proposed maps. We conclude that the proposed methodology is a valid method for mapping the limits of flow permanence that could substantially increase our understanding of the spatial links between terrestrial and aquatic interfaces, improving the research, management, and conservation of river biodiversity and functioning.