The effects of dams on longitudinal variation in river food webs
- Taylor & Francis
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 2014, 29 (1), pp. 1 - 14
- Issue Date:
We examined the effects of two dams on longitudinal variation of riverine food webs using stable isotope and gut contents analyses along four rivers in the Hunter Valley in eastern Australia. Longitudinal 15N enrichment was observed in most invertebrate taxa and food sources but significant longitudinal variation was rare for 13C, and composition of gut contents of invertebrate taxa did not vary significantly with longitudinal position. Most invertebrates and food sources were more 15N-enriched at sites immediately downstream of the dams than expected from their upstream longitudinal position, a result not mirrored by gut contents and 13C. Enrichment of 15N downstream may be attributed to altered water quality as a result of impoundment but further research is necessary to elucidate whether physico-chemical riverine processes or trophic mechanisms are responsible. Our observations regarding the influence of dams on isotope ratios are contrary to the few existing studies, suggesting the small volumes relative to annual inflows of dams in the present study limit downstream impacts by maintaining aspects of flow variability.
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