The pulsed, high-velocity water flow characteristic of water-flow patterns downstream from hydropower-generating dams has been implicated in the declining abundance of both aquatic insects and fishes in dam-regulated rivers. This study examined the effects of 0, 4, and 12 h per day of pulsed, high-velocity water flow on the egg mortality, hatch length, final length, and survival of larval robust redhorse Moxostoma robusturn, a presumedly extinct species that was rediscovered in the 1990s, and V-lip redhorse M. collapsum (previously synonomized with the silver redhorse M. anisurum) over a 3-5 week period in three separate experiments. Twelve 38.0-L aquaria (four per treatment) were modified to simulate pulsed, high-velocity water flow (>35 cm/s) and stable, low-velocity water flow (<10 cm/s). Temperature, dissolved oxygen, zooplankton density, and water quality variables were kept the same across treatments. Fertilized eggs were placed in gravel nests in each aquarium. Hatch success was estimated visually at greater than 90%, and the mean larval length at 24 h posthatch was similar in each experiment. After emergence from the gravel nest, larvae exposed to 4 and 12 h of pulsed, high-velocity water flow grew significantly more slowly and had lower survival than those in the 0-h treatment. These results demonstrate that the altered water-flow patterns that typically occur when water is released during hydropower generation can have negative effects on the growth and survival of larval catostomid suckers.
Additional publication details
Effects of pulsed, high-velocity water flow on larval robust redhorse and V-lip redhorse