, Volume 613, Issue 1, pp 45–56 | Cite as

The impact of water-level regulation on littoral macroinvertebrate assemblages in boreal lakes

  • Jukka Aroviita
  • Heikki Hämäläinen


Regulation of lake water level for power production and flood control is among the major anthropogenic disturbances in boreal aquatic ecosystems. In Finland, over 300 lakes, representing one third of the total inland water area of the country, are artificially regulated. To study the effects of regulation on lake littoral macroinvertebrate communities, samples were taken from upper stony littoral and from lower soft bottom littoral habitats of 11 lakes with different regulation amplitudes (wintertime fall in water level 1.19–6.75 m). Twelve unregulated (wintertime fall in water level 0.11–0.55 m) lakes with otherwise similar characteristics were used as a reference. Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling ordinations showed that the composition of macroinvertebrate assemblages was strongly associated with the amplitude of water level regulation. Taxon richness also decreased with increasing intensity of regulation. Freezing and flushing of sediments in late winter are probably the most important factors leading to the impoverished littoral macroinvertebrate fauna. Invertebrates with long life cycle seem to be particularly vulnerable to unnatural water level fluctuation. Our results show that regulation of water level has a major impact on functionally significant lake littoral macroinvertebrates.


Boreal lakes Littoral Macroinvertebrates Species richness Taxonomic composition Water-level regulation 



We thank the regional environmental centres of Kainuu (especially Pasi Toro), Lapland and North Carelia for help during the field trips. Olli Nousiainen and Petri Mäkinen (University of Jyväskylä) assisted in the field and the laboratory. We also thank Kimmo T. Tolonen and Ari Virnes for their unpublished macroinvertebrate data. This study has been a part of CENOREG-project (Classification and Environmental Objectives of Regulated Lakes), coordinated by SYKE, and has been financed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Finland. Also Graninge Kainuu provided financial support. Professor Roger I. Jones provided helpful comments and improved the language. Comments from Zoltan Csabai and an anonymous reviewer were helpful.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental ScienceUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskylä UniversityFinland

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