How does hydropeaking and geological substrate affect aquatic macroinvertebrates in a regulated river?
Abstract: Hydropower is an important source of renewable energy, but is often a cause of degradation to river ecosystems. Hydropeaking, i.e. the frequent alteration of discharge, is a process involved in hydropower generation and has been proven to affect aquatic organisms negatively. However, it’s unclear exactly what effects hydropeaking has on riverine ecology, in combination with important geomorphological characteristics. In this study, the interaction of hydropeaking and geological substrate (fine or coarse material) on aquatic macroinvertebrates was evaluated, while also assessing the influence of river width and water chemistry. Studies were conducted in 27 sites at rivers, 15 of which were exposed to hydropeaking, in central Sweden during June and August 2020. Sampling of macroinvertebrates was conducted using Hester-Dendy samplers. The following variables were investigated: i) total species richness, ii) species diversity, iii) macroinvertebrate density, iv) EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera) species richness, v) % EPT, vi) EPT/Chironomidae ratio, and vii) % Oligochaeta. The effects of hydropeaking and geological substrate on these variables were assessed using AIC model selection. Results did not indicate interaction effects of hydropeaking and geological substrate on any variable, and this did not concur with stated hypotheses. The results reaffirm the complexity of disentangling the effects that are in play during these processes. Studies of this kind is important in understanding how hydropower affects macroinvertebrates, and provides information on where and how most effective mitigation measures should be applied and provides valuable information for improving hydropower management protocols.
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