Global changes and local pressures related to the exploitation of water resources are significantly reducing streams' biodiversity and threatening their ecological balance. This trend concerns both the lowland rivers flowing in densely populated areas, and the alpine headwaters, where the effects of global change are dramatically evident and often accompanied by alterations in river hydro-morphology. In mountainous river stretches, regulation and morphological alterations such as bank reinforcement, water abstractions, dams, and weirs are increasing. In the Alps, protected areas and especially large National Parks constitute an effective strategy to face the loss of biodiversity, but little is known about their effectiveness regarding lotic environments. To examine the recent trend in aquatic communities in Alpine protected areas, we carried out biological samplings and hydro-morphological evaluation in twelve high-altitude streams within the oldest Italian National Park, the Gran Paradiso Park, located in the heart of the Western Alps, and we compared results with a previous survey performed in 2005, keeping the same experimental design. Our results detected minimal changes in the hydro-morphology of the studied watercourses. Biomonitoring indices associated with benthic communities likewise do not evidence significant differences. Concerning diatom flora, we found however in 2020 a greater uniformity in species composition compared to communities of 2005, and a slight turnover between species. In conclusion, our findings underline the effectiveness of protected areas for the conservation of running water environments because they limit hydro-morphological alterations thus increasing the resilience of aquatic communities to climate change.
Increasing complexity of riverine management is driving the need for more participatory approaches in which a wide range of stakeholders inform management actions. The foundational conditions of successful stakeholder engagement in participatory riverine management include the stakeholders’ familiarity with, trustworthiness of, shared vision with, and perceived competence of agencies involved in riverine management. We employ an embedded experimental mixed-methods approach to gain insight into two key stakeholder group’s (agricultural producers and non-farm households) perceptions of foundational conditions of successful stakeholder engagement in participatory riverine management in watersheds of two geographically and regulatorily disparate states. Overall, ratings for familiarity were often contrary to ratings of other three conditions. Contrary to previous research our findings suggest that familiarity does not necessarily lead to stakeholder perceived trustworthiness, shared vision, and competence of those involved in riverine management. These findings are important for participatory processes; for example, trust and shared vision without familiarity may inhibit the active involvement of diverse stakeholders in participatory processes that is needed for improving management of complex riverine systems. Our findings suggest agencies and groups involved in riverine management prioritize developing stronger relationships with agricultural producers to improve on these foundational conditions. Agencies and groups involved in riverine management rated low on familiarity should consider campaigns to increase stakeholders’ familiarity with them to leverage the generally high ratings on the other three foundational conditions. Future research should explore these contrary findings and their relationships to active involvement in participatory riverine management.
A poor understanding of factors leading to species decline can result in inefficient or ineffective species restoration. Endangered Colorado Pikeminnow ( Ptychocheilus lucius) was nearly extirpated from the San Juan River, NM, USA and recent efforts to reestablish the species via hatchery augmentation of juveniles has yet to reach the targeted number of adults in the system. To assess how changes to the river’s food web could be limiting reestablishment of this top predator, we used stable isotope (δ 13C and δ 15N) signatures of the fish community pre- (museum specimens) and post river regulation with coincident extirpations and invasions. Following river regulation, four of five community-wide trophic structure metrics used to quantify resource use diversity were reduced and species turnover likely had little effect per se. For species sampled in both time periods, shared trophic resources generally increased (mean niche overlap = +35.7%). However, Colorado Pikeminnow experienced a large decrease in niche breadth (-72%) and diet mixing models suggested a shift from piscivory towards insectivory in contemporary collections. Our results suggested an overall reduction in basal resource availability after river regulation. We suggest increased reliance on similar resources may be limiting fish prey for Colorado Pikeminnow, ultimately contributing to the slow and limited reestablishment in the San Juan River. This study adds to the growing body of knowledge provided by museum specimens and stable isotope analyses to identify food-web dynamics that are a departure from historical conditions which can provide novel information critical to imperiled species management in modified systems.
Dams alter many aspects of riverine environments and can have broad effects on aquatic organisms and habitats both upstream and downstream. While dams and the associated reservoirs can provide many services to people (hydropower, recreation, flood control, navigation, etc.), they can negatively affect riverine ecosystems. In particular, hydropeaking dams affect downstream fish habitats by increasing variability in discharge and temperature. To assess the effects of Harris Dam on the Tallapoosa River, AL, operating under an adaptive management plan implemented in 2005, we sampled fish for community and diet analyses from four sites on the river: three in the regulated region downstream of the dam, and one unregulated site upstream. Fish were collected every other month using boat/barge electrofishing. We used Shannon’s H, nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS), a multiresponse permutation procedure (MRPP), and indicator species analysis to quantify patterns in fish assemblage structure and determine how assemblages varied among sites. NMDS and MRPP indicated significant fish assemblage differences among sites with the tailrace fish assemblage being distinct from the other downstream sites, and sites becoming more similar to the upstream, unregulated site (relative to fish assemblages) with distance downstream of the tailrace. The tailrace fish assemblage included higher proportions of rheophilic species that may be better suited for variable and/or high flows. Altered fish assemblages demonstrated continued effects of Harris Dam on the downstream aquatic systems, particularly close to the dam. These effects may indicate further mitigation should be considered depending on conservation and management goals.
Despite the growing number of dam removals, very few have been studied to understand their impacts on stream fish communities. An even smaller proportion of dam removal studies focus on the impacts of low-head dam removals, although they are the most common type of dam. Instead, the majority of removal studies focus on the impacts of larger dams. In this study, two previously impounded Illinois rivers were monitored to assess the impacts of low-head dam removal on the functional assemblage of stream fishes. Study sites were sampled each fall from 2012-2015 (pre-dam removal) and 2018-2020 (post-dam removal) in three habitat types: downstream of the dam, impounded areas, and runs of rivers. Fishes were aggregated into habitat and reproductive guilds, relating community changes to habitat, environmental metrics, and stream quality. Prior to removal, the slackwater guild was the most prevalent habitat guild throughout both rivers, while nest builders and benthic spawners were the most abundant reproductive guilds. During the two years following removal, habitat conditions and fish assemblages improved throughout both rivers, with improvements in QHEI, IBI, water temperature, and dissolved oxygen, as well as a shift to more evenly distributed representation of habitat and reproductive guilds. The improvements in environmental metrics and overall stream quality, particularly in the formerly impounded habitats, indicate diminished habitat homogeneity, and a shift towards natural habitat diversity. This habitat diversification likely led to the restoration of a range of potential niches, thereby increasing the array of guild types inhabiting these rivers, while simultaneously preventing single-guild dominance.
This paper responds to a call to address the development and building of river-human relationships in the 21 st Century. Many literatures have identified the historical instrumental exploitation of natural resources underpinning urbanisation and the economic development of industry and society as leading to the wide-spread degradation of environments including rivers. Clearly such relationships can no longer be considered as appropriate in the 21 st Century. This paper intends to present a conceptual rethink to address the following question: Are there potential approaches by which humans can develop harmonious coexistent relationships with riverine landscapes and associated ecosystems? In answering this question, this paper draws on ideas from new materialism thinking. New materialism offers useful guidance in understanding human-river relationships in which river landscapes are not static backgrounds to the performance of the social. River systems and environments are active participants influencing and shaping social performances through multiple and diverse interconnected and complex human-nonhuman relationships and co-productive partnerships. It is concluded that new materialist perspectives provide important guidance for developing harmonious river-human relationships. De-centring the human as the dominant actor in relations with river landscapes and acknowledging rivers as key stakeholders within river-human relationships may enhance the building of harmonious coexistent and mutually beneficial relationships in the 21 st Century. It is further concluded the Nature Futures Framework (NFF) and Human-River Encounter Sites (HRES) frameworks in their capacity to accommodate new materialist thinking provide an opportunity for further exploration and examination of the possibilities for building harmonious coexistent river-human relationships.
Classification of natural flow regimes of non-perennial rivers and streams (NPRS) is an incipient field of research. NPRS represent approximately 70% of the total Mediterranean rivers and are expected to increase in the next decades as a result of climate change. Due to the ecological importance of NPRS and the need to improve national ecological assessment methods within the scope of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), this paper aims to classify the hydrological regime of 69 non-regulated streams, testing several hydrological indices related to the frequency, duration, timing, and rate of change in periods of flow cessation. Using daily flow records, a total of 315 indices were calculated and their relationships were examined with Principal Component Analysis (PCA) for different thresholds used to define zero-flow condition set at 0, 1, 2, and 5 l/s. Redundancy analysis identified five indices that better describe the patterns of hydrological variability in Mediterranean NPRS: number of days per year without flow, annual percentage of months without flow, mean daily of annual flows, coefficient of variation of Julian date of the annual start of zero flow and annual rise rate. Using these indices, a self-organizing map (SOM) was trained in order to categorize the NPRS into three groups with similar hydrological features. The results of this study provide a statistically-based hydrological classification of NPRS in Mediterranean environments. We expect that this classification will provide useful insights to water authorities to improve the assessments of the ecological status in this set of water bodies.
Hydrological drought has wide-ranging impacts on water quality, nutrient and carbon metrics that are critical to investigate with the increased drought frequency predicted with climate change. This study compared physicochemical parameters (temperature, conductivity, pH and DO), nutrients (TN, NO X, NH 3, TP) and carbon (TOC and DOC) between hydrological drought conditions (2006–2009) and hydrological normal conditions (2016–2019) at five sites along the lower Savannah River (Georgia, USA). We unexpectedly found temperature (F 1,220=4.27, p=0.04) was significantly lower during drought conditions. Levels of pH (F 1,220=11.99, p<0.01) and DO (% saturation; F 1,220=9.17, p=0.01; and mg L –1; F 1,220=4.04, p<0.01) were significantly higher during drought. We found TN (F 1,220=5.23, p=0.02), TOC (F 1,220=30.22, p<0.01) and DOC concentrations (F 1,220=30.22, p<0.01) were significantly lower during drought, but NO X concentrations (F 1,219=4.04, p=0.05) were significantly higher during drought. Conductivity only varied at the lower river sites, being significantly higher during drought at Sites 3 (F 1,47=12.56, p<0.01), 4 (F 1,47=12.96, p<0.01) and 5 (F 1,34=17.60, p<0.01). These complex changes could be attributed to volume reductions coupled with an increase in the percentage of total flow originating from groundwater and limnetic reservoir inputs, persistent point source pollution, reduced natural catchment inputs and/or reduced floodplain interactions. The changes that occurred during drought may be disruptive to aquatic life, not only from reduced water quantity but also due to a scarcity of some biologically essential materials and lower food resources, combined with artificially high levels of some other potentially stressful materials.
Spatial and temporal heterogeneity, or messiness, is a broadly desirable characteristic of river corridors and an indicator of many of the geomorphic processes that sustain fluvial ecosystems. However, quantifying geomorphic heterogeneity is complicated by a lack of consistent metrics, classification schemas for dividing the river corridor into the patches that form the basis for those metrics, and guidance on interpreting metrics. Drawing from both geomorphic and landscape ecology concepts, we offer ideas and guidance intended to help investigators, from researchers to restoration practitioners, more effectively and reliably use heterogeneity to describe river corridor processes and characteristics. We define geomorphic heterogeneity both spatially and temporally. Spatially, heterogeneity can be described by diversity, or the evenness and richness of geomorphic units, and spatial configuration, or the arrangement and shape of geomorphic units. Temporally, heterogeneity can be described by turnover rate, or the rate of change of geomorphic units. Interpretation of heterogeneity metrics depends integrally on the definition of the geomorphic unit schema on which metrics are based. Contextual information, such as measurements of process space (i.e., how much room a river has to move), disturbance frequency, and geomorphic trajectory, can also be key to interpreting measurements of heterogeneity. Geomorphic applications of heterogeneity require carefully defined geomorphic unit schemas that reflect processes and characteristics of interest, robust metrics of heterogeneity whose meaning is appropriate to the question at hand, and interpretation of those metrics based on the context of expected geomorphic processes and the disturbance regime.
Numerical hydrodynamic models enable the simulation of hydraulic conditions under various scenarios and are thus suitable tools for hydropeaking related assessments. However, the choice of the necessary model complexity and the consequences of modelling choices are not trivial and only few guidelines exist. In this study we systematically evaluate numerical one-dimensional (1D) and two-dimensional (2D) hydrodynamic models with varying spatial resolution regarding their suitability as input for hydropeaking-sensitive, ecologically relevant hydraulic parameters (ERHPs), and their computational efficiency. The considered ERHPs include the vertical dewatering velocity, the wetted area variation between base and peak flow and the bed shear stress as a proxy for macroinvertebrate drift. We then also quantified the habitat suitability of brown trout for different life stages. The evaluation is conducted for three channel planforms with morphological characteristics representative for regulated Alpine rivers, ranging from alternating bars to a braiding river morphology. Our results suggest, that while a highly resolved 1D model is sufficient for accurate predictions of the dewatering velocity and wetted area in the less complex alternating bar morphology, a 2D model is recommended for more complex wandering or braiding morphologies. For the prediction of habitat suitability and bed shear stress, a 1D model appears to be always insufficient, and a highly resolved 2D model is suggested. Reducing the spatial resolution of 2D models leads to computational efficiency similar to 1D, while providing more accurate results. This study can serve as guideline for researchers and practitioners in the selection and setup of hydrodynamic models for hydropeaking.
A maturing body of evidence suggests that anthropogenic impacts on river-wetland corridors may be greater and more widespread than previously recognized. We applied the Geomorphic Grade Line (GGL) method to define pre-Anthropocene valley surfaces within segments of the 42-kilometer Entiat River Valley (ERV) of the North Cascade Mountains, USA. We developed GGL-relative elevation models (GGL-REMs) by subtracting, from high-resolution digital elevation data, a detrending surface based on relic fluvial features of the valley floor. We validated the GGL-REMs using surficial geologic maps, C 14-dated soil profiles, and the identifiable remnants of historic dams. We interpreted these data in the context of settlement land use practices including channelization, large wood removal, and beaver ( Castor canadensis) trapping. Our analysis indicates that since the early 20 th century, the river has incised more than two meters in many areas. This triggered a rapid state and process change, wherein unconfined and partially-confined valleys transitioned from net deposition to erosion and transport environments. The distribution of river types shifted from ecologically rich river-wetland corridors towards simpler, single-threaded channels common in confined valleys. The effects of this state change on salmon productivity were profound. Results from the Entiat and other locales indicate that GGL-REMs can be used to help define the fluvial process-form domains, including the vertical dimension needed to guide valley floor restoration. These tools can be used to envisage pre-degradation riverscapes, especially when used in concert with other datasets. Once the pre-Anthropogenic conditions of rivers like Entiatqua have been recognized, the case for restoring lost river-wetland corridors to unlock their ecological potential becomes compelling.
One of the negative effects of hydropower on river environment includes rapid changes in flow and habitat conditions. Any sudden flow change could force fish to move towards a refuge area in a short period of time, causing serious disturbances in the life cycle of the fish. A probability-based multiscale model was developed to quantify the impact of hydropeaking on habitat suitability for two fish species. The model used habitat preference curves, river flow and depth to develop the suitability maps. The suitability index maps reveal that habitat suitability deteriorates as flow increases in this part of the river. The probability model showed that, on average, suitability indices are higher for adult grayling than juvenile trout in hydropeaking events in the studied area. In addition, the life stages of fish determine their response to the sudden flow change. The method developed shows the potential to be used in river management and the evaluation of hydropeaking impacts in river systems affected by hydropower.
Hydropeaking operation leads to fluctuations in wetted area between base and peak flow and increases discharge-related hydraulic forces (e.g., flow velocity). These processes promote macroinvertebrate drift and stranding, often affecting benthic abundance and biomass. Our field experimental study – conducted in three hydropeaking-regulated Swiss rivers – aimed to quantify (i) the short-term effects of the combined increase in flow amplitude and up-ramping rate based on macroinvertebrate drift and stranding, as well as (ii) long-term effects based on the established community composition. Hydropeaking led to increased macroinvertebrate drift compared to base flow and to unaffected residual flow reaches. Moreover, stranding of macroinvertebrates was positively related to drift, especially during the up-ramping phase. Flow velocity and up-ramping rate were identified as major determinants for macroinvertebrate drift, while flow ratio and down-ramping rate for stranding. Particularly high sensitivity towards HP was found for Limnephilidae, whereas Heptageniidae seemed to be resistant in respect to short and long-term hydropeaking effects. In the long-term, hydropeaking did not considerably reduce benthic density of most taxa, especially of some highly resistant and resilient taxa such as Chironomidae and Baetidae, which dominated the community composition even though they showed comparably high drift and stranding responses. Therefore, we argue that high passive drift and/or stranding, especially of individual-rich taxa, does not necessarily indicate strong hydropeaking sensitivity. Finally, our results demonstrate the necessity to consider the differences in river-specific morphological complexity and hydropeaking intensity, since these factors strongly influence the community composition and short-term drift and stranding response of macroinvertebrates to hydropower pressure.
Riparian vegetation provides many noteworthy functions in river and floodplain systems including its influence on hydrodynamic processes. Traditional methods for predicting hydrodynamic characteristics in the presence of vegetation involve the application of static roughness ( ns) values, which neglect changes in roughness due to local flow characteristics. The objectives of this study were to: (1) implement numerical routines for simulating dynamic hydraulic roughness ( nd) in a two-dimensional (2D) hydrodynamic model; (2) evaluate the performance of two dynamic roughness approaches; and (3) compare vegetation parameters and hydrodynamic model results based on field-based and remote sensing acquisition methods. A coupled vegetation-hydraulic solver was developed for a 2D hydraulics model using two dynamic approaches, which required vegetation parameters to calculate spatially distributed, dynamic roughness coefficients. Vegetation parameters were determined by field survey and using airborne LiDAR data. Water surface elevations modeled using conventional and the proposed dynamic approaches produced similar profiles. The method demonstrates the suitability in modeling the system where there is no calibration data. Substantial spatial variations in both n and hydraulic parameters were observed when comparing the static and dynamic approaches. Thus, the method proposed here is beneficial for describing the hydraulic conditions for the area having huge variation of vegetation. The proposed methods have the potential to improve our ability to simulate the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of vegetated floodplain surfaces with an approach that is more physically-based and reproducible than conventional “look up” approaches. However, additional research is needed to quantify model performance with respect to spatially distributed flow properties and parameterization of vegetation characteristics.
Riparian zones represent an important ecosystem providing a range of functions and services important to humans—e.g., biodiversity support, a reduction in erosion risk, or the transport of pollutants from the surrounding landscape to watercourses. At the same time, it is, unfortunately, an environment that has been often subjected to significant pressure during the agricultural cultivation of the landscape or the development of industrial and residential activities of human society. Thus, a large number of riparian ecosystems have disappeared or degraded. The assessment of the overall ecological status of riparian habitats constitutes an important source of information for the needs of watercourse management and landscape planning in the riparian landscape, the aim of which should be to maintain good status or to improve the current unsatisfactory state of these habitats. However, in order to reliably evaluate the current ecological status of the landscape, it is necessary to have information on the reference status, i.e., a potentially natural status that would prevail without human influence. For this purpose, a methodology that can determine the potential natural status of riparian zones in Central European conditions was developed. In this study, it was found that approximately a quarter (26 %) of all river basins in the Czech Republic reach very low environmental values of the potential natural status of riparian zones and, conversely, approximately 29 % of river basins are expected to develop significantly above average riparian zone quality if we neglect human impact.
The hydrological regime is the main factor governing the functioning of floodplain rivers. A full comprehension of its dynamic leads to a better understanding of the system’s behaviour and of the proper methods that must be used. We analysed the daily water level of the Paraná River during the last century at three gauge stations using linear and non-linear tools to characterise the hydrological dynamic and to analyse to what extent chaotic behaviour prevails. The three water level time series were characterised as non-linear and non-stationary by power spectrum, autocorrelation function, and surrogate test analyses. A strange attractor was developed when the phase space was reconstructed, having a low dimensional chaos supported by correlation dimension, positive maximum Lyapunov exponents, and recurrence quantification analysis. In line with this, the system resulted unpredictable with a threshold by sample entropy, and with an intermediate hydrological complexity, while Hurst exponent characterised the system as persistent and with sensitive dependence on initial conditions. In a general overview, all the evidence obtained indicates that the Paraná River’s behaviour is at the edge of chaos. A latitudinal gradient of decreasing chaoticity was observed as the floodplain extent increased, whereas complexity was highest at the intermediate river station due to the inflow of tributaries with different hydrology. This paper attempts to offer some additional insights for understanding the hydrological behaviour of floodplain rivers and the proper methods to understand their complexity.
A novel aerial tracer particle distribution system has been developed. This system is mounted on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and flown upstream from where surface velocimetry measurements are conducted. This enables surface velocimetry techniques to be applied in rivers and channels lacking sufficient natural tracer particles or surface features. Lack of tracers is a common problem during low flows, in lowland rivers, or in artificial channels. This is particularly problematic for analysis conducted using Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) techniques where dense tracer particles are required. Techniques for colouring tracer particles with biodegradable dye have also been developed, along with methods for extracting them from Red Green Blue (RGB) imagery in the Hue Saturation Value (HSV) colour space. The use of coloured tracer particles enables flow measurements in situations where sunglint, surface waves, moving shadows, or dappled lighting on riverbeds can interfere with and corrupt results using surface velocimetry techniques. These developments further expand the situations where surface velocimetry can be applied, as well as improving the accuracy of the results.