Salmon Use of Geomorphically Restored Streams at Point Reyes National Seashore

Module by: Mark Rains, University of South Florida

Cover Page by: Len Vacher and Denise Davis, University of South Florida

This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


In this Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum activity, students use National Park Service data to assess whether the repair of a culvert for a small stream in Point Reyes National Seashore had the desired effect of improving the success of coho salmon getting further upstream to spawn. The data involve redds, which are small depressions on the stream bed created by the female coho to enable spawning. For the first study, the data are counts of redds in 15 successive one-km-long stream segments in each of four annual spawning seasons, the last two of which were after the culvert was repaired. In the second study, the data are redd density (number of redds per km) for five streams in the area, one being the treatment stream; the other four streams serve as controls. The data, which are explored by bar graphs of redd counts and calculations of percent differences, make it clear that the culvert repair was successful in removing a barrier to the salmon run. The context of the calculation makes it clear to students that there is a connection between hydrology, geomorphology and ecology. The intent of the module is to introduce Geology of National Parks students to an ecohydrologic management issue and intervention while they use some basic quantitative skills to work with real data.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number NSF DUE-0836566. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Learning Goals

SSACgnp.GB661.MCR1.3-Slide 4
Slide 4 of the module.

Students will:

  • Work with redds-count data to determine whether a culvert restoration effort had the desired effect of removing a barrier to salmon swimming upstream to spawn.

  • Create a bar graph using data for John West Fork of the number of redds per 1-km stream segments for four spawning runs of 1997-1998 through 2000-2001.

  • Create another bar graph using data of redd density for the main coho-bearing streams in the Lagunitas Creek-Olema Creek Watershed, collected in spawning runs of 1997-1998 through 2006-2007.

  • Calculate percent change in redd counts and redd density from before the treatment to after the treatment.

  • Read background material on Point Reyes National Seashore; coho salmon and their life cycle; stream bed geomorphology, fluvial processes, and salmon habitat; and redds.

In the process the students will:

  • Get practice making bar graphs and calculating percent differences.

  • Use the concept of treatment vs. control in the assessment of whether an intervention was effective.

  • See a connection between stream bed geomorphology and the life cycle of salmon in a Pacific Coast national park.

  • See what is involved in salmon crossing roads, and why they must.

  • See an example of NPS environmental and ecological stewardship in action, as well as the relevance of data for evaluating it.

  • Learn two words that they likely did not know before: anadromous fish and redds.

Context for Use

SSACgnp.GB661.MCR1.3-Slide 7
Slide 7 of the module.

This module is designed for potential use in the Geology of National Parks service course at USF. The course is offered as an online course every semester. It includes readings from Parks and Plates, weekly quizzes based on that textbook, and weekly student activities designed to align the course with the University's general education requirements. This module is intended to be one of those activities, with the specific goal of meeting the gen-ed quantitative literacy dimension.

Description and Teaching Materials

SSACgnp.GB661.MCR1.3-Slide 15
Slide 15 of the module.

The module is a PowerPoint presentation with embedded spreadsheets. Click on the link below to download a copy of the module.

Optimal results are achieved with Microsoft Office 2007 or later; the module will function in earlier versions with slight cosmetic compromises. If the embedded spreadsheets are not visible, save the PowerPoint file to disk and open it from there.

The above PowerPoint presentation file is the student version of the module. It includes a template for students to use to complete the spreadsheet(s) and answer the end-of-module questions, and then turn in for grading.

An instructor version is available by request. The instructor version includes the completed spreadsheet. Send your request to Len Vacher ( by filling out and submitting the Instructor Module Request Form.

Teaching Notes and Tips

The module is constructed to be a stand-alone resource. It can be used as a homework assignment, lab activity, or as the basis of an interactive classroom activity. It was used as an out-of-class activity in a senior-elective course, Environmental Geology of the National Parks (for geology majors and nonmajors), during development of the module in Spring 2010. In general, the students considered this module to be one of the more elementary modules in the collection. It is now one of the modules that is rotated into the online introductory-level Geology of National Parks course.


There is a slide at the end of the presentation that contains end-of-module questions. The end-of-module questions can be used to examine student understanding and learning gains from the module. Pre/post test, pre/post test answer key, and answer key for end-of-module questions are at the end of the instructor version of the module.

References and Resources

Del Real, S.C., Carlisle, S.J., Reichmuth, M., Ketcham, B.J. 2007. Adult Escapement Monitoring Program Summary 2006-2007. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/SFAN/NRTR—2007/001. National Park Service, San Francisco Bay Area Network Inventory and Monitoring Program, Point Reyes Station, CA.

US National Park Service (NPS)

Point Reyes National Seashore

US Fish & Wildlife Service

US Forest Service

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