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Durham e-Theses
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Short duration reservoir-release impacts on impounded upland rivers

TOSNEY, JONAH,JAMES (2013) Short duration reservoir-release impacts on impounded upland rivers. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The increasing number and scale of river impoundments throughout the 19th and 20th centuries means that the management of these impoundments is crucial to the future of global riverine biota. Impoundments such as reservoirs can affect rivers in a variety of ways, not least through the reduction in amplitude of the natural hydrograph, depriving rivers of ecologically important spate flows.

Many reservoir operators conduct regular safety tests, known as scour releases, during which large quantities of impounded water are released directly into rivers. This project assesses the impact of these releases on the hydrology and physio-chemistry of the receiving water bodies as well as upon fish movements and benthic macroinvertebrate abundance and diversity downstream of the reservoirs. The potential of such releases to mimic natural spate flows for ecological gain is also examined.

The work took place in the Yorkshire Water catchment area in northern England between 2007 and 2010. Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) telemetry was used to assess the responses of brown trout Salmo trutta to these short-duration releases. Tagged fish were able to maintain position during the releases and showed no evidence of wash-out or upstream migratory movements associated with the releases.

Changes to macroinvertebrate abundance, diversity and community structure associated with the release were also examined. Some sites showed significant wash-out and community change following the releases while other sites were unchanged. Communities at impacted sites returned to pre-release structures within weeks of the releases.

Analysis of habitat use and characteristics suggest the responses of fish and macroinvertebrates to these reservoir releases were linked to habitat heterogeneity and the use of flow refugia. The negative impacts associated with the scour releases were minimal, while mimicked spate releases may improve salmonid spawning habitat and could re-introduce valuable flow variability to impounded catchments.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:reservoir release, scour, spate, Salmo trutta, macroinvertebrate, water quality, flow habitat usage PIT telemetry
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Apr 2013 09:32

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