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Meteorology and species composition of plant communities, birds and fishes before and after initial impoundment of Miharu Dam Reservoir, Japan


The immediate impact of damming appears most notably at the first filling of water, when the dam blocks the river and a lake suddenly forms. In this review, the changes in meteorology, plant communities, birds and fishes surrounding initial impoundment of Miharu Dam, constructed in an Asian Monsoon region, are summarised based on previous papers and subsequent field research. Although wind and temperature changes were investigated, land and lake wind occur due to the different thermal properties between the land and lake, and this type of wind often occurs at large lakes such as Glen Canyon Dam Reservoir or Lake Biwa. The size of Miharu Dam Reservoir (ponding area 2.9 km2) was insufficient to cause land–lake air differentials. Therefore, wind direction and air temperature were unaffected. Mountain winds weakened at the lake centre and near the dam body. Changes in vegetation were especially diverse at the drawdown zone (the slopes above and below the normal water level). On slopes above this zone, trees died and species composition changed due to submergence. Within the drawdown zone, the pre-existing plant community disappeared, and flood-resistant plants such as Salix subfragilis increased. The natatorial bird population continued to grow for 4 years after dam reservoir emergence and stabilised thereafter. Every year, the majority of natatorial birds utilising the dam reservoir as a resting area were ducks, but populations of diving ducks fluctuated depending on water level and iced area. After impoundment, the fish populations increased. As in most dam reservoirs in Japan, populations of invasive fish species such as Micropterus salmoides and Lepomis macrochirus increased. However, spawning grounds dried up during low-water-level seasons, suggesting that regulating water levels may help reduce invasive species.

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We thank Professor Futoshi Nakamura of Hokkaido University and Professor Takashi Asaeda of Saitama University for the opportunity to publish this review and for advice on its contents. We are also grateful to Professor Yasuo Ezaki of the University of Hyogo for guidance concerning birds, to Tomonori Osugi of the Japan Water Resources Environment Technology Centre for advice on fish and to Eizo Ichikawa of NS-Kankyo Corporation for meteorology advice. We thank Hitomi Hashimoto, Namiko Kageyama, Hiroshi Saitou, Wataru Koukestu and Kazumasa Kumazawa of OYO Corporation for assistance in organising the data and in revision.

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Correspondence to Kazuhiro Azami.

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Azami, K., Takemoto, M., Otsuka, Y. et al. Meteorology and species composition of plant communities, birds and fishes before and after initial impoundment of Miharu Dam Reservoir, Japan. Landscape Ecol Eng 8, 81–105 (2012).

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  • Dam reservoir
  • First filling of water
  • Micrometeorology
  • Plant communities
  • Fishes
  • Natatorial birds