Empirical Characterization Factors for Life Cycle Assessment of the Impacts of Reservoir Occupation on Macroinvertebrate Richness across the United States
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionSustainability. 2021, 13 (5), . 10.3390/su13052701
The transformation of a river into a reservoir and the subsequent occupation of the riverbed by a reservoir can impact freshwater ecosystems and their biodiversity. We used the National Lake Assessment (134 reservoirs) and the National Rivers and Streams Assessment (2062 rivers and streams) of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in order to develop empirical characterization factors (CFs; in Potentially Disappeared Fraction of species [PDF]) evaluating the impacts of reservoir occupation on macroinvertebrate richness (number of taxa) at the reservoir, ecoregion and country spatial scales, using a space-for-time substitution. We used analyses of variance, variation partitioning, and multiple regression analysis to explain the role of ecoregion (or regionalization; accounting for spatial variability) and other potentially influential variables (physical, chemical and anthropogenic), on PDFs. At the United States scale, 28% of macroinvertebrate taxa disappeared during reservoir occupation and PDFs followed a longitudinal gradient across ecoregions, where PDFs were higher in the west. We also observed that high elevation, oligotrophic and large reservoirs had high PDF. This study provides the first empirical macroinvertebrate-based PDFs for reservoir occupation to be used as CFs by LCA practitioners. The results provide strong support for regionalization and a simple empirical model for LCA modelers.