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Cumulative ecological effects of a Neotropical reservoir cascade across multiple assemblages

Abstract

Dams have altered the physiography and ecology of large rivers, causing severe environmental changes at a global scale. Assuming that series of reservoirs induce physical, chemical, and biological longitudinal changes in rivers, we tested the hypotheses that (i) the structure of biological communities in reservoir cascades is not only affected by changes in water quality, but also by cumulative hydrological alteration and impacts on river connectivity; and (ii) fish are more affected by cumulative effects of reservoirs when compared to other aquatic assemblages. Samplings of three assemblages (phytoplankton, benthic macroinvertebrates, and fish) were conducted in the reservoir cascade of São Francisco River, Brazil. We estimated the relative role of environmental and spatial predictors through variation partitioning analyses. Environmental variables, cumulative reservoir volume, longitudinal position, and distances from nearest reservoirs were used as explanatory variables. Environmental variables were the most important for the phytoplankton community. No significant effects of the predictors used were found for benthic macroinvertebrates, whereas spatial variables and cumulative reservoir volume were the most important predictors for fish. Therefore, our results provide evidence of impacts along reservoir cascades, and suggest that their effects mainly influence fish assemblages.

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Acknowledgements

This project was financed by the Hydroelectric Company of the São Francisco – CHESF, through the Foundation Apolônio Salles for Educational Development – FADURPE. NCLS received a doctoral Grant and Sandwich doctorate scholarship from the National Council for Scientific and Technologic Development (CNPq), and the other authors received Grants from the Coordination for Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES). EGB was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Projects CGL2016-80820-R and CGL2015-69311-REDT), the Government of Catalonia (ref. 2014 SGR 484), and CAPES (visiting professorship, ref. 88881.068352/2014-01). JDD thanks CNPq to provide post-doctoral scholarship. AAA has received productivity Grants from CNPq.

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dos Santos, N.C.L., García-Berthou, E., Dias, J.D. et al. Cumulative ecological effects of a Neotropical reservoir cascade across multiple assemblages. Hydrobiologia 819, 77–91 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-018-3630-z

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Keywords

  • Dams
  • Fish
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Phytoplankton
  • Variation partitioning