Riparian Ecosystems, Volume 1: Science Synthesis and Management Implications
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Riparian Ecosystems, Volume 1: Science Synthesis and Management Implications

Category: Priority Habitats and Species - Management Recommendations

Date Published: May 2018
Revised Date: May 16, 2018
Number of Pages: 293

Author(s): Timothy Quinn, George Wilhere and Kirk Krueger


This Priority Habitats and Species (PHS) document of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is provided in support of the agency's mission to protect fish and wildlife - public resources the agency is charged with managing and perpetuating. WDFW works cooperatively with land use decision makers and landowners to facilitate land use solutions that accommodate local needs and needs of fish and wildlife. WDFW's role in land use decision making is that of technical advisor: we provide information about the habitat needs of fish and wildlife and the likely implications of various land use decisions for fish and wildlife.

The nine chapters of Volume 1 are a partial update of an earlier document entitled Management Recommendations for Washington's Priority Habitats: Riparian (Knutson and Naef, 1997). This document, called Riparian Ecosystems, Volume 1: Science Synthesis and Management Implications is a partial update because it addresses only aquatic species. Riparian needs of terrestrial species will be updated later. Until the terrestrial species update is completed, readers can consult the 1997 document, available at for information about riparian ecosystems and terrestrial species.

Priority Habitats are places that warrant special consideration for protection when land use decisions are made. To qualify as a "Priority Habitat" in WDFW's PHS program a habitat must provide unique or significant value to many species. It must meet at least one of the following criteria (WDFW, 2008):

Comparatively high fish and wildlife density
Comparatively high fish and wildlife species diversity
Important fish and wildlife breeding habitat
Important fish and wildlife seasonal ranges
Important fish and wildlife movement corridors
Limited availability
High vulnerability to habitat alteration
Unique or dependent species

Riparian areas meet all of these criteria. Because of the many important ecosystem services (hydrologic, geomorphic, and biological) riparian areas provide, they were among the first PHS Priority Habitats identified and described by WDFW.

The PHS program provides land use decision support to clients such as local governments, developers, agencies, tribes, and landowners. PHS consists of PHS List, PHS Maps (available online at, PHS Management Recommendations, Technical Assistance (available from our Regional Habitat Biologists), Customer Service, and the newest component PHS Adaptive Management Support.

This PHS riparian document compliments a family of PHS document including Landscape Planning For Washington's Wildlife: Managing for Biodiversity in Developing Areas and Land Use Planning for Salmon, Steelhead and Trout: A land use planner's guide to salmonid habitat protection and recovery available at

Suggested Citation:
Riparian Ecosystems, Volume 1: Science synthesis and management implications. 2018. Timothy Quinn, George Wilhere and Kirk Krueger, (Managing Editors). A Priority Habitat and Species Document of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia.