Browsing All Posts filed under »dams«

Dams challenge platypus populations

March 26, 2022

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The construction of dams has many adverse effects on river hydrology and ecology.  Dams limit animal movements and reduce the cover of riparian vegetation, which leads to bank erosion and the filling of stream pools with sediment.  Dam-related impacts have been documented for many types of riverine animals, including macroinvertebrates, amphibians and waterbirds.  However, the […]

Assessing human impacts on river systems

September 28, 2021

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Because many river systems have been significantly modified as a result of human activities, indicators of changing river structure and function are very helpful in guiding our efforts to manage rivers on a sustainable basis.  A number of different indicators based on the hydrology, chemistry or biology of rivers have been developed, but in many […]

Biodiversity offsets: compliance doesn’t guarantee ecosystem function

March 13, 2021

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When human activities impair habitats and reduce biodiversity, environmental offsets, such as the creation of new wetlands and the planting of native vegetation, can help to preserve ecosystem function and services.  However, the success of offsetting projects depends on the extent to which the required measures are complied with, and compliance is often poor.  This […]

Reservoirs as biodiversity hotspots

December 17, 2020

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Although lakes and reservoirs are both inland water bodies, lakes are usually ancient ecosystems formed by geomorphological processes while reservoirs are relatively young environments constructed to meet human needs.  Understanding how these factors affect biological communities is important in the conservation of freshwater biodiversity.  In theory, diversity should be greater in lake habitats because they […]

Letting the rivers run again

June 28, 2019

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Rivers are commonly dammed to store water, mitigate flooding or produce power.  However, dams can severely disrupt natural flow regimes, and as a result threaten habitats, biodiversity and ecosystem services.   Many dams are old or obsolete, and the benefits of removing them before they fail may outweigh the costs.   The largest dam removal project in […]

Getting river history right

March 30, 2019

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  Information on past climate patterns can prove invaluable when assessing the responses of freshwater ecosystems to environmental change, but what are the implications for ecological understanding if beliefs about climate history are incorrect?  This question has been explored by scientists who used the Murray River, Australia’s largest river system, as a case study.  Hydrologically, […]

Getting the message across

October 8, 2018

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Since recreational boaters can unintentionally spread invasive aquatic species while transporting boats and equipment from one body of water to another, it’s important that management agencies communicate the need for boaters to clean, drain and dry their gear after use.  Researchers used a questionnaire-based approach to find out if the way the “clean, drain and […]

Restoration and invertebrates: build it and at least some of them will come

September 25, 2017

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It’s commonly assumed that the biodiversity of a disturbed ecosystem can be improved by restoring its original physical and chemical conditions. According to this “Field of Dreams” view (“build it and they will come”), ecosystem recovery occurs through the recolonization activities of lost species.  While a lot of river restoration is founded on Field of […]

Human impacts on ecological connectivity

June 19, 2017

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Ecological connectivity – the exchange of organisms between habitat patches or subpopulations – has an influence on many key processes, including population dynamics, nutrient flux, disease transmission, species invasions, food-web interactions, genetic isolation and the maintenance of biodiversity. A recent study reviewed ways in which graph theory has been used to investigate how human activities […]

How environmentally-damaging are run-of-river hydropower systems?

June 1, 2016

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Hydropower generation typically involves the creation of large dams for the storage and release of water, which can have serious adverse effects on riverine environments. However, growing pressures on governments to meet renewable energy targets have stimulated interest in small-scale hydropower systems, especially run-of-river schemes, which use the flow within a river channel and operate […]