, Volume 841, Issue 1, pp 31–43 | Cite as

Evaluating impacts of an extreme flood on a fish assemblage using hydroacoustics in a large reservoir of the Yangtze River basin, China

  • Geng Huang
  • Qidong WangEmail author
  • Xiaohang Chen
  • Małgorzata Godlewska
  • Yuxi Lian
  • Jing Yuan
  • Jiashou Liu
  • Zhongjie Li
Primary Research Paper


Extreme hydrological events can modify aquatic community structure resulting in significant changes in the ecosystem function. This study investigated the impacts of an extreme flood on the fish assemblage in the Gaobazhou reservoir, Yangtze River basin, which encountered devastating impacts of a severe flood in July 2016. The in situ effects of the severe flood on the fish assemblage were monitored by means of hydroacoustic surveys. Our study indicated that the flood had significant impacts on the fish assemblage in terms of fish density, biomass, structure, and distribution by modified hydrology. The fish density declined significantly (P < 0.05) from 3260 ind. ha−1 in the pre-flood period to 431 ind. ha−1 in the post-flood period, whilst the fish biomass increased from 237 to 526 kg ha−1 due to escapees from cage culture that resulted from the flooding, respectively. The ratio of fish density in reservoir bays to mainstream in the post-flood period is 16.5 as opposed to 2.4 in the pre-flood period. Hydrological changes and escapees from cage culture resulting from flood had significant impacts on the modification of the fish assemblage in the reservoir.


Fish stock Spatial distribution Hydrological changes Cage culture Habitat Target strength 



This work was financially supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2018YFD0900701), Earmarked Fund for China Agriculture Research System (No. CARS-45), and Special Fund for Technical Innovation of Hubei Province (No. 2017ABA061).


  1. An, Y., 2002. Development benefits of the Gaobazhou Hydropower Station. Water Power 3: 21–22. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  2. Agostinho, A. A., L. C. Gomes, S. Veríssimo & E. K. Okada, 2004. Flood regime, dam regulation and fish in the upper paraná river: effects on assemblage attributes, reproduction and recruitment. Reviews in Fish Biology & Fisheries 14: 11–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barletta, M., C. S. Amaral, M. F. M. Corrêa, F. Guebert, D. V. Dantas, L. Lorenzi & U. Saint-Paul, 2008. Factors affecting seasonal variations in demersal fish assemblages at an ecocline in a tropical-subtropical estuary. Journal of Fish Biology 73: 1314–1336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baumgartner, L. J., J. Conallin, I. Wooden, B. Campbell, R. Gee, W. A. Robinson & M. Mallen-Cooper, 2014. Using flow guilds of freshwater fish in an adaptive management framework to simplify environmental flow delivery for semi-arid riverine systems. Fish and Fisheries 15: 410–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brandt, S. B., 1993. The effect of thermal fronts on fish growth: a bioenergetics evaluation of food and temperature. Estuaries 16: 142–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Butchart, S. H., M. Walpole, B. Collen, A. Van Strien, J. P. Scharlemann, R. E. Almond & K. E. Carpenter, 2010. Global biodiversity: indicators of recent declines. Science 328: 1164–1168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coumou, D. & S. Rahmstorf, 2012. A decade of weather extremes. Nature Climate Change 2: 491–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. David, B. O. & G. P. Closs, 2002. Behavior of a stream-dwelling fish before, during, and after high-discharge events. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 131: 762–771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. DeMérona, B. & P. Albert, 1999. Ecological monitoring of fish assemblages downstream of a hydroelectric dam in French Guiana (South America). River Research and Applications 15: 339–351.Google Scholar
  10. De Silva, S. S., 2012. Aquaculture—a newly emergent food production sector- and perspectives of its impacts on biodiversity and conservation. Biodiversity and Conservation 21: 3187–3220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. De Silva, S. S., 2016. Culture based fisheries in Asia are a strategy to augment food security. Food Security 8: 585–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Draštík, V., J. Kubečka, M. Tušer, M. Čech, J. Frouzová, O. Jarolím & M. Prchalová, 2008. The effect of hydropower on fish stocks: comparison between cascade and non-cascade reservoirs. Hydrobiologia 609: 25–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Espínola, L. A., A. P. Rabuffetti, E. Abrial, M. L. Amsler, M. C. A. Blettler, A. R. Paira & L. N. Santos, 2017. Response of fish assemblage structure to changing flood and flow pulses in a large subtropical river. Marine and Freshwater Research 68: 319–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Foote, K. G., 1987. Fish target strengths for use in echo integrator surveys. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 82: 981–987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Franssen, N. R., K. B. Gido, C. S. Guy, J. A. Tripe, S. J. Shrank, T. R. Strakosh & C. P. Paukert, 2006. Effects of floods on fish assemblages in an intermittent prairie stream. Freshwater Biology 51: 2072–2086.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Frouzova, J., J. Kubecka, H. Balk & J. Frouz, 2005. Target strength of some European fish species and its dependence on fish body parameters. Fisheries Research 75: 86–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gido, K. B., C. W. Hargrave, W. J. Matthews, G. D. Schnell, D. W. Pogue & G. W. Sewell, 2002. Structure of littoral-zone fish communities in relation to habitat, physical, and chemical gradients in a southern reservoir. Environmental Biology of Fishes 63: 253–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Godlewska, M., G. Mazurkiewicz-Boroń, A. Pociecha, E. Wilk-Woźniak & M. Jelonek, 2003. Effect of the flood on the functioning of the Dobczyce reservoir ecosystem. Hydrobiologia 504: 305–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gomes, L. C., C. K. Bulla, A. A. Agostinho, L. P. Vasconcelos & L. E. Miranda, 2012. Fish assemblage dynamics in a Neotropical floodplain relative to aquatic macrophytes and the homogenizing effect of a flood pulse. Hydrobiologia 685: 97–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Harvey, B., 1987. Susceptibility of young-of-the-year fishes to downstream displacement by flooding. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 116: 851–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hladík, M. & J. Kubečka, 2003. Fish migration between a temperate reservoir and its main tributary. Hydrobiologia 504: 251–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Humphries, P., A. J. King & J. D. Koehn, 1999. Fish, flows and flood plains: links between freshwater fishes and their environment in the Murray-Darling River system, Australia. Environmental Biology of Fishes 56: 129–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kundzewicz, Z. W., Y. Hirabayashi & S. Kanae, 2010. River floods in the changing climate—observations and projections. Water Resources Management 24: 2633–2646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lee, L. S., J. A. Garnett, E. G. Bright, R. R. Sharitz & D. P. Batzer, 2016. Vegetation, invertebrate, and fish community response to past and current flow regulation in floodplains of the Savannah River, Southeastern USA. Wetlands Ecology and Management 24: 443–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Li, R. & F. P. Gelwick, 2005. The relationship of environmental factors to spatial and temporal variation of fish assemblages in a floodplain river in Texas, USA. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 14: 319–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lian, Y., S. Ye, M. Godlewska, G. Huang, J. Wang, S. Chen & Z. Li, 2017. Diurnal, seasonal and inter-annual variability of mean fish density and distribution in the Three Gorges Reservoir (China) assessed with hydroacoustics. Limnologica-Ecology and Management of Inland Waters 63: 97–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Matheney, M. P. & C. F. Rabeni, 1995. Patterns of movement and habitat sue by Northern Hog Suckers in an Ozark stream. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 124: 886–897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Matthews, W. J., 1986. Fish faunal structure in an Ozark stream: stability, persistence and a catastrophic flood. Copeia 2: 388–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Muller, U. K., E. J. Stamhuis & J. J. Videler, 2000. Hydrodynamics of unsteady fish swimming and the effects of body size: comparing the flow fields of fish larvae and adults. Journal of Experimental Biology 203: 193–206.Google Scholar
  30. Nilsson, C., C. A. Reidy, M. Dynesius & C. Revenga, 2005. Fragmentation and flow regulation of the world’s large river systems. Science 308: 405–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peirson, G., J. D. Bolland & I. Cowx, 2008. Lateral dispersal and displacement of fish during flood events in lowland river systems in the UK—implications for sustainable floodplain management: Ecohydrological Processes and Sustainable Floodplain Management. Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology 8: 363–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pires, A. M., M. F. Magalhães, L. Moreira Da Costa, M. J. Alves & M. M. Coelho, 2010. Effects of an extreme flash flood on the native fish assemblages across a Mediterranean catchment. Fisheries Management & Ecology 15: 49–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Prchalová, M., J. Kubecka, M. Vašek, J. Peterka, J. Sed’a, T. Juza & M. Cech, 2008. Patterns of fish distribution in a canyon-shaped reservoir. Journal of Fish Biology 73: 54–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Richter, B. & G. Thomas, 2007. Restoring environmental flows by modifying dam operations. Ecology and Society 12: 12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Robinson, C. T. & U. Uehlinger, 2008. Experimental floods cause ecosystem regime shift in a regulated river. Ecological Applications 18: 511–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Robinson, C. T., U. Uehlinger & M. T. Monaghan, 2004. Stream ecosystem response to multiple experimental floods from a reservoir. River Research & Applications 20: 359–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Smith, W. E. & T. J. Kwak, 2015. Tropical insular fish assemblages are resilient to flood disturbance. Ecosphere 6: 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sokal, M. A., R. I. Hall & B. B. Wolfe, 2010. The role of flooding on inter-annual and seasonal variability of lake water chemistry, phytoplankton diatom communities and macrophyte biomass in the Slave River Delta (Northwest Territories, Canada). Ecohydrology 3: 41–54.Google Scholar
  39. Tao, J., Z. Yang, Y. Cai, X. Wang & J. Chang, 2017. Spatiotemporal response of pelagic fish aggregations in their spawning grounds of middle Yangtze to the flood process optimized by the Three Gorges Reservoir operation. Ecological Engineering 103: 86–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tudorache, C., P. Viaene, R. Blust, H. Vereecken & G. De Boeck, 2008. A comparison of swimming capacity and energy use in seven European freshwater fish species. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 17: 284–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Van der Kraak, G. & N. W. Pankhurst, 1997. Temperature effects on the reproductive performance of fish. In Wood, C. M. & D. G. MacDonald (eds), Global Warming: Implications for Freshwater and Marine Fish. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK: 159–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Vašek, M., J. Kubečka, J. Peterka, M. Čech, V. Draštík, M. Hladík & J. Frouzová, 2004. Longitudinal and vertical spatial gradients in the distribution of fish within a canyon-shaped reservoir. International Review of Hydrobiology 89: 352–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Vondracek, B., D. M. Baltz, L. R. Brown & P. B. Moyle, 1989. Spatial, seasonal and diel distribution of fishes in a California reservoir dominated by native fishes. Fisheries Research 7: 31–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wang, Q., L. Cheng, J. Liu, Z. Li, S. Xie & S. S. De Silva, 2015. Freshwater aquaculture in PR China: trends and prospects. Reviews in Aquaculture 7: 283–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ward, D. L., A. A. Schultz & P. G. Matson, 2003. Differences in swimming ability and behavior in response to high water velocities among native and nonnative fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes 68: 87–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. WCD (World Commission on Dams), 2000. Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making: The Report of the World Commission on Dams. Earthscan, London: 2–13.Google Scholar
  47. Zarfl, C., A. E. Lumsdon, J. Berlekamp, L. Tydecks & K. Tockner, 2015. A global boom in hydropower dam construction. Aquatic Sciences 77: 161–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Zhong, Q., 1985. Comprehensive utilization planning of the Geheyan Water Conservancy Project. Yangtze River 2: 19–23. (in Chinese).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geng Huang
    • 1
  • Qidong Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Xiaohang Chen
    • 1
  • Małgorzata Godlewska
    • 3
  • Yuxi Lian
    • 4
  • Jing Yuan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jiashou Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhongjie Li
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of HydrobiologyChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.National Research Centre for Freshwater Fisheries EngineeringWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.European Regional Centre for EcohydrologyPolish Academy of SciencesLodzPoland
  4. 4.Research Center of Aquatic Organism Conservation and Water Ecosystem Restoration in Anhui ProvinceAnqing Normal UniversityAnqingChina

Personalised recommendations