Streams and rivers comprise less than 1% of Earth’s surface, but they are disproportionately important for Earth’s biogeochemical cycles, and they harbor some of the highest levels of biodiversity, particularly for groups like fish and mussels.

Unfortunately, streams and rivers are also some of the most degraded ecosystems on the planet, which has led to increased opportunities to restore these important systems.

Cardinale has worked on a number of stream restoration projects in different parts of the United States. During his Ph.D. work at the University of Maryland, he led projects focused on the restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem processes in degraded streams throughout the Appalachian Mountains. After moving to California, Cardinale's lab group worked on collaborative projects with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to evaluate the success of restored spawning habitat for threatened and endangered Chinook salmon.

Most recently, our lab has evaluated how conservation and restoration of woody and non-woody vegetation can stabilize river-banks, and reduce erosion in Michigan's Huron-Manistee National Forest. Our work on this topic, which overlaps with our interests in Ecological Design, has shown that enhancing species diversity of native vegetation creates complex rooting systems that help reduce the chance of bank sloughing and failure.

Example publications

Allen, D. C., B. J. Cardinale, and T. Wynn-Thompson. 2018. Riparian plant biodiversity reduces stream channel migration rates. Ecohydrology, 11:e1972 (doi:10.1002/eco.1972).

Albertson, L., B. Lewis, L. Koenig, and B. J. Cardinale. 2012. How does restored habitat for Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the Merced River in California compare to other Chinook streams? River Research & Applications, 29:469-482 (doi:10.1002/rra.1604).

Cardinale, B. J., M. A. Palmer, C. M. Swan, S. Brooks, and N. L. Poff. 2002. The influence of substrate heterogeneity on biofilm metabolism in a stream ecosystem. Ecology 83:412-422.

Key collaborators



  • Department Head, Ecosystem Science and Management