The effects of run-of-river hydroelectric power schemes on invertebrate community composition in temperate streams and rivers

Gary Bilotta, Niall Burnside, Matthew Turley, Jeremy Gray, Harriet Orr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Run-of-river (ROR) hydroelectric power (HEP) schemes are often presumed to be less ecologically damaging than large-scale storage HEP schemes. However, there is currently limited scientific evidence on their ecological impact. The aim of this article is to investigate the effects of ROR HEP schemes on communities of invertebrates in temperate streams and rivers, using a multi-site Before-After, Control-Impact (BACI) study design. The study makes use of routine environmental surveillance data collected as part of long-term national and international monitoring programmes at 22 systematically-selected ROR HEP schemes and 22 systematically-selected paired control sites. Five widely-used family-level invertebrate metrics (richness, evenness, LIFE, E-PSI, WHPT) were analysed using a linear mixed effects model. The analyses showed that there was a statistically significant effect (p<0.05) of ROR HEP construction and operation on the evenness of the invertebrate community. However, no statistically significant effects were detected on the four other metrics of community composition. The implications of these findings are discussed in this article and recommendations are made for best-practice study design for future invertebrate community impact studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017 Bilotta et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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