Effects of hydropeaking on benthic invertebrate community composition in two central Norwegian rivers
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonRivers Research and Applications: an international journal devoted to river research and management. 2018, 34 (3), 218-231. 10.1002/rra.3241
Hydropower regulations can have dramatic impacts on river ecological communities. The operation of hydropower stations is related to power demands, but their releases in the receiving water body causes sudden changes in flow, which in turn affect the biota. The effects of such flow variations on benthic invertebrates is not fully understood. Here, we studied the effects of duration and intensity of hydropeaking on benthic invertebrates in two rivers over a 3.5‐year period. We used both quantitative (Surber) and semiquantitative (kick samples) sampling methods to compare the ramping zone with the permanently water covered zone downstream of the hydropower plant, and with corresponding unaffected upstream areas. The ramping zone had a different invertebrate community composition and lower benthic density than other areas, especially after hydropeaking. Mayflies and chironomids were most negatively affected by hydropeaking and oligochaetes largely unaffected. Chironomids and the mayfly Baetis rhodani were able to recolonize the ramping zone and almost reach densities similar to deeper areas within 48 days following hydropeaking. The relative abundance of filter feeders tended to increase and gatherers/collectors tended to decrease from the ramping zone towards the deep, permanently water covered areas. In corresponding areas upstream of the power plant, the relative abundance of different functional feeding groups was the same in the mid‐channel and shore sites. Our study shows that hydropeaking has clear impacts on the functional structure of benthic invertebrates below the power plants. The ecological impact of hydropeaking on invertebrate communities should thus be taken into account, for example, by reducing the amplitude and duration of flow fluctuations.