Environmental Management

, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 249–263 | Cite as

Effects of Dam Removal on Fish Community Interactions and Stability in the Eightmile River System, Connecticut, USA



New multivariate time-series methods have the potential to provide important insights into the effects of ecosystem restoration activities. To this end, we examined the temporal effects of dam removal on fish community interactions using multivariate autoregressive models to understand changes in fish community structure in the Eightmile River System, Connecticut, USA. We sampled fish for 6 years during the growing season; 1 year prior to, 2 years during, and for 3 years after a small dam removal event. The multivariate autoregressive analysis revealed that the site above the dam was the most reactive and least resilient sample site, followed in order by the below-dam and nearby reference site. Even 3 years after the dam removal event, the stream was still in a recovery stage that had failed to approximate the community structure of the reference site. This suggests that the reorganization of fish communities following dam removals, with the goal of ecological restoration, may take decades to centuries for the restored sites to approximate the community structure of nearby undisturbed sites. Results from this study also highlight the utility of multivariate autoregressive modeling for examining temporal interactions among species in response to adaptive management activities both in aquatic systems and elsewhere.


Dam removal Ecological restoration Fish conservation Multivariate autoregressive models Adaptive management 



We would like to thank A. Whelchel and The Nature Conservancy for grants to study the study area before and after they removed the Zemko Dam. Thanks are particularly due to M. Kraczkowski and K. Miller for all of their participation and insights over the years. We are grateful to Lindsay Scheef for answering questions about the statistical analyses in the MAR1 package in R. Grants and research funds from Wesleyan University provided necessary supplies, transportation and especially student help during the course of this study: College of the Environment (Schumann Funds), Department of Earth and Environmental Studies (Smith Funds), Department of Biology, and the Howard Hughes Program.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of the EnvironmentWesleyan UniversityMiddletownUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Biology and Earth and Environmental StudiesWesleyan UniversityMiddletownUSA

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