Environmental stressors afflicting tailwater stream reaches across the United States

River Research and Applications
By:  and 

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Abstract

The tailwater is the reach of a stream immediately below an impoundment that is hydrologically, physicochemically and biologically altered by the presence and operation of a dam. The overall goal of this study was to gain a nationwide awareness of the issues afflicting tailwater reaches in the United States. Specific objectives included the following: (i) estimate the percentage of reservoirs that support tailwater reaches with environmental conditions suitable for fish assemblages throughout the year, (ii) identify and quantify major sources of environmental stress in those tailwaters that do support fish assemblages and (iii) identify environmental features of tailwater reaches that determine prevalence of key fish taxa. Data were collected through an online survey of fishery managers. Relative to objective 1, 42% of the 1306 reservoirs included in this study had tailwater reaches with sufficient flow to support a fish assemblage throughout the year. The surface area of the reservoir and catchment most strongly delineated reservoirs maintaining tailwater reaches with or without sufficient flow to support a fish assemblage throughout the year. Relative to objective 2, major sources of environmental stress generally reflected flow variables, followed by water quality variables. Relative to objective 3, zoogeography was the primary factor discriminating fish taxa in tailwaters, followed by a wide range of flow and water quality variables. Results for objectives 1–3 varied greatly among nine geographic regions distributed throughout the continental United States. Our results provide a large-scale view of the effects of reservoirs on tailwater reaches and may help guide research and management needs.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Environmental stressors afflicting tailwater stream reaches across the United States
Series title River Research and Applications
DOI 10.1002/rra.2705
Volume 30
Issue 9
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 11 p.
First page 1184
Last page 1194
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N