Detalle Publicación

A simple method to assess the fragmentation of freshwater fish meta-populations: implications for river management and conservation

Título de la revista: ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS
ISSN: 1470-160X
Volumen: 125
Páginas: 107557
Fecha de publicación: 2021
Rivers are very vulnerable to fragmentation caused by the presence of man-made barriers. To restore river basin connectivity, numerous indices have been developed to calculate river fragmentation and optimise barrier mitigation actions. These methods usually calculate connectivity for whole river basins, but sometimes it is useful to analyse the connectivity for certain elements of interest. The main goal of this study was to develop a simple method to calculate the connectivity of specific riverine habitats or fish meta-populations. The framework of the Dendritic Connectivity Index (DCI) created by Cote et al. in 2009 was changed to develop the Population Connectivity Index (PCI). This index would depend on the number of populations, the total river length occupied by each population, the distance between populations, the dispersal capability of the fish species and the presence of barriers in the river. The outcome of the index is a percentage that measures the degree of connectivity in a meta-population. The PCI was tested in four Iberian fish species with different dispersal capabilities: Salmo trutta, Luciobarbus comizo, Anaecypris hispanica and Cobitis vettonica. The results show a natural connectivity between populations (without considering dams) of 7.95-47.48%. The most connected meta-population was L. comizo while the most naturally fragmented meta-population was A. hispanica. When large impassable dams were added to the index the results show a connectivity of 2.19-16.48%. Dams reduce connectivity between 5.37 and 30.99 points. Dams were ranked according to their impact in the fragmentation of each studied meta-population. This PCI allows to find out naturally isolated fish meta-populations and to assess the impact of dams in the fragmentation of fish meta-populations. It can also be used in dam prioritization decisions such as dam removals and new dam location selection. It also can aid in the creation of river ecological corridors between endangered or important fish populations.