Villeurbanne, France
Villeurbanne, France

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Merigoux S.,CNRS Ecology of Natural and Anthropized Hydrosystems Laboratory | Forcellini M.,CNRS Ecology of Natural and Anthropized Hydrosystems Laboratory | Dessaix J.,ARALEP | Fruget J.-F.,ARALEP | And 2 more authors.
Freshwater Biology | Year: 2015

Principal threats to running waters are linked to human-made discharge modifications, but tools to predict the quantitative consequences of flow restoration for benthic invertebrates in large rivers remain untested. Quantitative benthos samples from two bypassed reaches (Pierre-Bénite - PBE - and Chautagne - CHAU) of the French Rhône River were collected during four years each before and after minimum flow increases (from 10 to 100 m3 s-1 at PBE and from 10 to 50 m3 s-1 at CHAU). These samples provided observed ln-density changes for the 50 and 62 (PBE and CHAU, respectively) most abundant taxa (typically species or genera). For about half of the 'model' taxa among them, distinct preference models for bottom shear stress categories were available from four reaches of the Upper Rhône River and from various German rivers. Linking these preference models with a statistical hydraulic model predicting frequencies of shear stress categories for any given discharge, we predicted ln-density changes of the model taxa after restoration. Community structure of the abundant taxa changed clearly and rapidly after restoration at PBE but less clearly at CHAU. Our predictions explained a considerable amount of mean ln-density changes of our model taxa observed after restoration (75 and 30% at PBE and CHAU, respectively). They also explained (67 and 40% at PBE and CHAU, respectively) the model taxa scores along the principal components analysis axis that summarised the community variations of all abundant taxa before and after restoration. For taxa not identified to species (assessed as genus, tribe or family), the predicted ln-density changes were sometimes inaccurate at PBE (a Lower Rhône site), suggesting that the transferability of preference models for taxonomic levels above that of species can be problematic. If further developed, statistical habitat models focussing on ecologically relevant physical variables (in our case shear stress) should enable reliable quantitative assessments of associations between flow restoration efforts and achievable ecological improvement. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Fruget J.-F.,ARALEP | Jezequel C.,ARALEP | Archambaud G.,IRSTEA | Dessaix J.,ARALEP | Roger M.-C.,IRSTEA
Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems | Year: 2015

The study of biological traits have enhanced the understanding of the changes in the macroinvertebrate communities of the Rhône River during the last thirty years, as well as the potential effects of hydroclimatic factors and thermal discharges on the structure and the functioning of these communities at the regional scale. If every section of the Rhône had specific features, we observed over time a trend towards a higher uniformisation of invertebrate communities, especially in the Lower section. The strong impacts of the alien species and the water warming subsequent to the 2003 heat wave have been detected in the Lower Rhône and the Middle Rhône: the communities of the Middle Rhône gradually exhibit profiles closer to those of the communities of the Lower Rhône. The Upper Rhône was less colonized by alien species but was impaired by the global warming: its communities exhibited biological profiles closer to those of communities of further-downstream zones. In this site, the thermal discharges have led to a lower diversity of the communities and a higher occurrence of eurythermic species. Hence the benthic macrofauna of the Rhône River seems to have reacted quickly and strongly to environmental changes and to the arrival of invasive species. However numerous trait adaptations being common to Mediterranean and alien species, it seems complex to evaluate the respective weight of each of these potential sources of impairment. Predicting trends in invertebrate community composition is a complex objective because of the competition between native and/or invasive species in addition to man-induced environmental variation (flow, temperature). However, if biological invasion does not occur continuously but only based on specific events (especially hydroclimatology), we can legitimately believe that this drift will continue with the arrival of new Ponto-Caspian species via the Danube-Main Canal, their usual way to western and southern Europe. The common feature of these different species is that they are essentially predators or filterers, thermophilic and euryecic, and efficient functional competitors. Finally, this study once again emphasizes the importance of long-term monitoring in the study of biological communities in the context of global warming. © 2015 J.-F. Fruget et al.

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