How Can Be Lotic Ecosystem Size More Precisely Estimated? Comparing Different Approximations in Pre-Pyrenean and Pyrenean Mountains
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Rivers are among the most biodiverse and endangered ecosystems on earth. In Europe, concern over their conservation promoted the development of legal instruments for habitat and species conservation, the Habitats Directive, and water resource management, the Water Framework Directive. This legal protection demanded the estimate of river ecosystem surface for different purposes. Different approaches allow river surface to be measured at a low cost. Some accurate techniques like satellite images or LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) do not always work at a large scale or for streams and small rivers. We discuss here the use of the traditional hydraulics relationship between drainage area and bankfull width as a good approach to river surface estimation. We confirm that the use of this cheap and simple method could be a good approach to estimate river surface. However, we also proved that the development of regional curves, i.e., to establish the empirical relationship based on study area data, constitutes an essential improvement to estimation.