Sustainability (May 2019)

Dam Removal Effects on Benthic Macroinvertebrate Dynamics: A New England Stream Case Study (Connecticut, USA)

  • Helen M. Poulos,
  • Kate E. Miller,
  • Ross Heinemann,
  • Michelle L. Kraczkowski,
  • Adam W. Whelchel,
  • Barry Chernoff

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 10
p. 2875


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Dam removal is an increasingly common stream restoration tool. Yet, removing dams from small streams also represents a major disturbance to rivers that can have varied impacts on environmental conditions and aquatic biota. We examined the effects of dam removal on the structure, function, and composition of benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) communities in a temperate New England stream. We examined the effects of dam removal over the dam removal time-series using linear mixed effects models, autoregressive models, non-metric multidimensional scaling, and indicator and similarity analyses. The results indicated that the dam removal stimulated major shifts in BMI community structure and composition above and below the dam, and that the BMI communities are becoming more similar over time. The mixed model analysis revealed that BMI functional groups and diversity were significantly influenced by sample site and several BMI groups also experienced significant interactions between site and dam stage (P < 0.05), while the multivariate analyses revealed that community structure continues to differ among sites, even three years after dam removal. Our findings indicate that stream restoration through dam removal can have site-specific influences on BMI communities, that interactions among BMI taxa are important determinants of the post-dam removal community, and that the post-dam-removal BMI community continues to be in a state of reorganization.