, Volume 784, Issue 1, pp 283–304 | Cite as

Effects of flow regulation on river bed dynamics and invertebrate communities in a Mediterranean river

  • G. Lobera
  • I. Muñoz
  • J. A. López-Tarazón
  • D. Vericat
  • R. J. Batalla
Primary Research Paper


Mediterranean rivers are hotspots for biodiversity, and riverine species are adapted to regular physical perturbations that affect channel morphology during flashy rainfall-runoff events. Dams alter flow regimes, changing flood magnitude and frequency; they also interrupt the continuity of sediment transport. Changes in both flood and sediment transport regimes affect downstream channel dynamics and the ecological functioning of fluvial systems. This paper examines the effects of flow regulation on bed disturbance, invertebrate assemblages and their biological traits in a Mediterranean river (the Siurana, NE Iberian Peninsula). Results are put in the broader context of the whole Ebro river catchment. The Siurana Reservoir causes a complete inversion of the seasonal flow regime and reduces flood magnitude notably. Upstream from the reservoir, torrential floods mobilize surface and subsurface bed materials, regularly disturbing the physical habitat; downstream, geomorphological activity in the channel is almost nonexistent. Altogether, damming causes significant differences in taxonomic composition of the benthic invertebrate communities; density and biomass increase notably below the dam although diversity decreases. At the broader scale taxa with active aerial dispersal traits dominate unregulated reaches in areas with marked Mediterranean hydro-climatic regimes, whereas reaches with more stable regimes are characterized by fully aquatic detritivore species.


Channel morphology Dams Flood regime Biological traits Ebro catchment 



This research has been carried out within the framework of the Consolider Ingenio 2010 CSD2009-00065 Project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. Jose Andrés López-Tarazón is in receipt of a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (Project ‘‘Floodhazards’’, PIEF-GA-2013-622468, Seventh EU Framework Programme). Damià Vericat is in receipt of a Ramon y Cajal Fellowship (RyC-2010-06264) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. Authors acknowledge the support from the Department of Economy and Knowledge of the Catalan Government through the Consolidated Research Group 2014 SGR 645 (RIUS- Fluvial Dynamics Research Group). Special thanks are due to the Catalan Water Agency for their support during the investigation, providing field assistance and useful data. We thank two anonymous referees for their positive and constructive comments and suggestions that help in improving the paper substantially.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Lobera
    • 1
  • I. Muñoz
    • 2
  • J. A. López-Tarazón
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • D. Vericat
    • 1
    • 5
  • R. J. Batalla
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Fluvial Dynamics Research Group –RIUS, Department of Environment and Soil SciencesUniversity of LleidaLleidaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Institute of Earth and Environmental ScienceUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  4. 4.School of Natural Sciences and PsychologyLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  5. 5.Forest Sciences Centre of CataloniaSolsonaSpain
  6. 6.Catalan Institute for Water ResearchGironaSpain

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