Effect of a dam on epilithic algal communities of a mountain stream: before-after dam construction comparison

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Luciana Cibils Martina *
Romina Principe
Noemí Gari
(*) Corresponding Author:
Luciana Cibils Martina | lcibils@gmail.com

Abstract

In this study we evaluated the effect of a dam on epilithic algal communities by analyzing community response after dam construction and by comparing community composition, structure and biomass upstream and downstream of the dam. Samples of epilithic algae and environmental data were collected at each site during high and low water periods before and after dam construction in Achiras Stream (Córdoba, Argentina). Ordinations showed modifications in algal assemblages after dam construction and downstream of the dam. Ordinations also suggested a loss of seasonality at the downstream site since the assemblages were similar between hydrological periods after dam construction. Indicator species, obtained by the Indicator Value method, showed that, after dam construction, there could have been an increase in nutrient concentration and a release of plankton from the impoundment. Abundance, richness and diversity were altered after dam construction as assessed by ANOVAs derived from a modified BACI Design. Proportion of early-successional species was higher at the upstream site while late-successional species were dominant at the downstream site, as predicted. Lower fluctuations in discharge downstream of the dam may have helped succession advance, whereas at the upstream site, mainly during the high water period, floods could have caused sloughing of life forms from the outer layers of the biofilm, resetting the algal community to early successional stages. It may be concluded that the dam affected algal community and favored succession advance mainly by reducing current velocity and flow fluctuations.

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