invertebrates

Threats to Imperiled Freshwater Fauna

Volume: 
Vol. 11(5) 1081-1093
Year: 
1997
Abstract: 

Threats to imperiled freshwater fauna in the U.S. were assessed through an experts survey addressing anthropogenic stressors and their sources. Specifically, cause of historic declines and current limits to recovery were identified for 135 imperiled freshwater species of fishes, crayfishes, dragonflies and damselflies, mussels, and amphibians. The survey was designed to identify threats with sufficient specificity to inform resource managers and regulators faced with translating information about predominant biological threats into specific, responsive actions. The findings point to altered sediment loads and nutrient inputs from agricultural nonpoint pollution; interference from exotic species; and altered hydrologic regimes associated with impoundment operations as the three leading threats nationwide, accompanied by many lesser but still significant threats. Variations in threats among regions and among taxa were also evident. Eastern species are most commonly affected by altered sediment loads from agricultural activities, whereas exotic species, habitat removal/damage, and altered hydrologic regimes predominate in the West. Altered sediment loading from agricultural activities and exotic species are dominant problems for both eastern mussels and fishes. However, whereas eastern mussels appear to be more severely affected by altered nutrient impacts from hydroelectric impoundments and agricultural runoff. Our findings suggest that control of nonpoint source pollution associated with agriculture activities should be a very high priority for agricultural producers and governmental support programs. Additionally, the large number of hydropower dams in the U.S. subject to federal relicensing in coming years suggests a significant opportunity to restore natural hydrologic regimes in the affected rivers.

Author(s): 

Richter , B.D. , Braun , D.P., Mendelson , M.A.

Contact: 

The Nature Conservancy, FWI

Notes: 
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Exploring how disturbance is transmitted upstream: going against the flow

Volume: 
Vol. 16(2) 425-438
Year: 
1997
Abstract: 

Modifications of lower watersheds such as water abstraction, channel modification, land-use changes, nutrient enrichment, and toxic discharge can set off a cascade of events upstream that are often overlooked. This oversight is of particular concern since most rivers are altered by humans in their lower drainages and most published ecological investigations of lotic systems have focused on headwater streams. Factors contributing to ecological processes or biophysical legacies in upper watersheds often go unacknowledged because they occur at disparate geographic locations downstream (e.g., gravel mining, water abstraction, dams) with significant lag times. This paper considers examples of how alterations to streams and rivers in their lower reaches can produce biophysical legacies in upstream reaches on levels from genes to ecosystems. Examples include: 1) genetic- and species-level changes, such as reduced genetic flow and variation in isolated upstream populations; 2) populations-and community-level changes that occur when degraded downstream areas act as population "sinks" for "source" populations of native species upstream or, conversely, as "source" populations of exotic species that migrate upstream; and 3) ecosystem-and landscape-level changes (e.g., nutrient cycling, primary productivity, regional patterns of biodiversity) that can occur in headwater systems as a result of downstream habitat deterioration and hydrologic modifications. Finally, a case study from my own research illustrates the importance of careful consideration of downstream-upstream linkages in formulating research questions, designing experiments, making predictions, and interpreting results. The effects of dams and associated water abstraction in lowland streams of Puerto Rico has forced my colleagues and me to re-evaluate the results of ecological research that we have conducted in highland streams over the past decade and to redirect our research that we have conducted in highland streams over the past decade and to redirect our research to consider downstream-upstream linkages.

Author(s): 

Pringle , C.M.

Contact: 

Pringle, Catherine, Inst. Of Ecology, Univ. of Georgia, Inst. Of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602-0000

Notes: 
Category: 

Freshwater bivalve extinctions (mollusca: unionoida): a search for causes

Volume: 
Vol. 33( ) 599-609
Year: 
1993
Abstract: 

The freshwater bivalves (Mollusca: Order Unionoida) are classified in six families and about 165 genera worldwide. Worldwide rate of extinction of freshwater bivalves is poorly understood at this time. The North American freshwater fauna north of Mexico is represented by 297 taxa in two families. There are 19 taxa presumed extinct, 44 species listed or proposed as federally endangered, and there are another 69 species that may be endangered. A number of these endangered species are functionally extinct (individuals of a species surviving but not reproducing). Extinction of North American unionoid bivalves can be traced to impoundment and inundation of riffle habitat in major rivers such as the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland and Mobile Bay Basin. Damming resulted in the local loss of the bivalves' host fish. This loss of the obligate host fish, coupled with increased siltation, and various types of industrial and domestic pollution have resulted in the rapid decline in the unionoid bivalve fauna in North America. Freshwater communities in Europe have experienced numerous problems, some local unionoid populations have been extirpated, but no unionoid species are extinct. Three taxa from Israel are now reported as extinct. Other nations such as China that have problems with soil erosion and industrial pollution or have numerous dams on some of the rivers (e.g. South America: Rio Parana) are probably experiencing problems of local extirpation if not the extinction of their endemic freshwater bivalve fauna

Author(s): 

Bogan, A.E.

Contact: 
Notes: 
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