The main objective of this study was to quantify the impacts of the run of river (ROR) scheme on the instream habitat and macroinvertebrate community. We sampled the macroinvertebrate assemblages and collected the habitat variables above and below an ROR hydropower plant: Aotou plant in the Hailang River, China. The effects of the ROR scheme on habitat conditions were examined using regulation-related variables, most of which, particularly the hydrological variables and substrate composition, presented spatial variations along the downstream direction, contributing to heterogeneous conditions between reaches. The macroinvertebrate richness, the density and the diversity metrics showed significant decreases in the “depleted” reach compared with the upper and lower reaches. Approximately 75% of reach-averaged densities and 50% of taxa richness suffered decreases in the “depleted” reach compared with the upper reach. Furthermore, functional feeding groups also showed distinct site differences along the channel. The relative abundance of both collector-gatherers and the scrapers reduced considerably at the “depleted” sites, particularly at the site immediately downstream of the weir. The total variance in the the functional feeding group (FFG) data explained by Canonical correlation analysis (CCA) was more than 81.4% and the high-loadings factors were depth, flow velocity, DO and substrate composition. We demonstrated that flow diversion at the 75% level and an in-channel barrier, due to the ROR scheme, are likely to lead to poor habitat conditions and decrease both the abundance and the diversity of macroinvertebrates in reaches influenced by water diversion.
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