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Water 2018, 10(3), 259;

Modelling Tools to Analyze and Assess the Ecological Impact of Hydropower Dams

Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic Ecology, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium
Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 1, Dinh Bang, Tu Son, Bac Ninh 220000, Vietnam
Flanders Marine Institute, Wandelaarkaai 7, B-8400 Ostend, Belgium
Provincial Centre of Environmental Research, Godshuizenlaan 95, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Department of Computational Landscape Ecology, UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
School of Environmental Science and Technology, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Hanoi 100000, Vietnam
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 December 2017 / Revised: 9 February 2018 / Accepted: 22 February 2018 / Published: 2 March 2018
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We critically analyzed a set of ecological models that are used to assess the impact of hydropower dams on water quality and habitat suitability for biological communities. After a literature search, we developed an integrated conceptual model that illustrates the linkages between the main input variables, model approaches, the output variables and biotic-abiotic interactions in the ecosystems related to hydropower dams. We found that variations in water flow and water depth coupled with increased nutrient availability are major variables that contribute to structural and functional ecosystem changes. We also found that ecological models are an important tool to assess the impact of hydropower dams. For instance, model simulation of different scenarios (e.g., with and without the dam, different operation methods) can analyze and predict the related ecosystem shifts. However, one of the remaining shortcomings of these models is the limited capacity to separate dam-related impacts from other anthropogenic influences (e.g., agriculture, urbanization). Moreover, collecting sufficient high-quality data to increase the statistical power remains a challenge. The severely altered conditions (e.g., generation of very deep lakes) also lead to difficulties for standardized data collection. We see future opportunities in the integration of models to improve the understanding of the different processes affected by hydropower dam development and operation, as well as the use of remote sensing methods for data collection. View Full-Text
Keywords: food web models; habitat suitability models; integrated models; water quality models; hydrodynamic models; hydropower dams food web models; habitat suitability models; integrated models; water quality models; hydrodynamic models; hydropower dams

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Nguyen, T.H.T.; Everaert, G.; Boets, P.; Forio, M.A.E.; Bennetsen, E.; Volk, M.; Hoang, T.H.T.; Goethals, P.L.M. Modelling Tools to Analyze and Assess the Ecological Impact of Hydropower Dams. Water 2018, 10, 259.

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