Epilithic community metabolism was determined on a seasonal basis over two years in nonregulated and regulated reaches of the Clearwater River in northern Idaho, U.S.A. Metabolism was estimated using three, 12-liter recirculating chambers and the dissolved oxygen method, with parameters expressed as g O 2 m-2 d-1. In the nonregulated reach above the reservoir, gross community productivity (GCP) ranged from 0.8 to 3.2, community respiration (CR24) from 0.3 to 1.2, and production/respiration (P/R) ratios from 1.2 to 3.3. Epilithic metabolism in the regulated reach immediately below the dam increased sharply; GCP ranged from 4.2 to 25.5, CR24 from 1.9 to 9.7, and P/R ratios from 1.4 to 5.7. Increased primary production and respiration in the regulated reach was a result of extensive growth of an aquatic moss (Fontanalis neo-mexicanus). The influence of the dam on epilithic community metabolism was mitigated 2.5 km downstream of the dam due to the regulated North Fork of the Clearwater River (NFCR) merging with the larger, nonregulated Clearwater River. While the regulated Clearwater River below the confluence was somewhat affected by the regulated NFCR flows upstream, metabolism was similar to that found above the reservoir (GCP = 1.2-2.6, CR 24 = 0.6-1.3, and P/R = 1.4-2.2). This study demonstrates that while Dworshak Dam has altered both primary production and respiration directly below the dam, the placement of the dam only 2.5 km upstream from a nonregulated reach greatly mitigates its effects on stream metabolism downstream.
Additional publication details
The influence of Dworshak Dam on epilithic community metabolism in the Clearwater River, U.S.A.