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Article

The Combined Impact of Hydropower Plants and Climate Change on River Runoff and Fish Habitats in Lowland Watersheds

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Laboratory of Hydrology, Lithuanian Energy Institute, Breslaujos St. 3, LT-44403 Kaunas, Lithuania
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Laboratory of Fish Ecology, Nature Research Centre, Verkiu St. 98, LT-12201 Vilnius, Lithuania
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Department of Environment, Land and Infrastructure Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, IT-10129 Torino, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Angel Perez-Ruzafa
Water 2021, 13(24), 3508; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243508
Received: 19 November 2021 / Revised: 3 December 2021 / Accepted: 6 December 2021 / Published: 8 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Biodiversity and Functionality of Aquatic Ecosystems)
Aquatic ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic activity and climate change. The changes in flow regimes in Lithuanian lowland rivers due to the operation of hydropower plants (HPPs) and the impact of altered flow on some fish species have already been studied. The impact of climate change on future natural river runoff and the structure of fish assemblages was also investigated. However, it is still unknown how the combined effect of climate change and flow regulation related to hydropower generation may affect fish assemblages in the downstream river reaches below the Lithuanian HPPs. In this study, the physical habitat modelling system MesoHABSIM was used to simulate spatial and temporal changes in aquatic habitats availability for different fish species under the influence of HPP at different climate change scenarios. Changes in the available habitat were assessed for common fish species in four HPP-affected rivers representing different hydrological regions of Lithuania. The modelling results showed that the operation of HPP under climate change conditions in most rivers could be beneficial for small benthic fish species such as gudgeon Gobio gobio and stone loach Barbatula barbatula. Meanwhile, for larger fish species (e.g., chub Squalius cephalus and vimba Vimba vimba) the alteration in the temporal availability of suitable habitat was relatively higher. View Full-Text
Keywords: freshwater ecosystems; lowland rivers; climate change; hydropower; dams; biodiversity loss; MesoHABSIM; fish habitats freshwater ecosystems; lowland rivers; climate change; hydropower; dams; biodiversity loss; MesoHABSIM; fish habitats
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MDPI and ACS Style

Akstinas, V.; Virbickas, T.; Kriaučiūnienė, J.; Šarauskienė, D.; Jakimavičius, D.; Rakauskas, V.; Negro, G.; Vezza, P. The Combined Impact of Hydropower Plants and Climate Change on River Runoff and Fish Habitats in Lowland Watersheds. Water 2021, 13, 3508. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243508

AMA Style

Akstinas V, Virbickas T, Kriaučiūnienė J, Šarauskienė D, Jakimavičius D, Rakauskas V, Negro G, Vezza P. The Combined Impact of Hydropower Plants and Climate Change on River Runoff and Fish Habitats in Lowland Watersheds. Water. 2021; 13(24):3508. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243508

Chicago/Turabian Style

Akstinas, Vytautas, Tomas Virbickas, Jūratė Kriaučiūnienė, Diana Šarauskienė, Darius Jakimavičius, Vytautas Rakauskas, Giovanni Negro, and Paolo Vezza. 2021. "The Combined Impact of Hydropower Plants and Climate Change on River Runoff and Fish Habitats in Lowland Watersheds" Water 13, no. 24: 3508. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243508

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