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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10277/280

Authors: Castelli, Elena
Internal Tutor: CROSA, GIUSEPPE
Title: Sustainable management of hydraulic diversions in fluvial ecosystem.
Abstract: This thesis focuses on the study of the negative effects induced on stream ecosystems by hydropower schemes in an Alpine river system. The downstream ecological consequences of 4 controlled free-flow flushing operations designed to remove sediments accumulated in an Alpine reservoir are described. Sediment removals were carried out for analogous duration and in the same period of the year from 2006 to 2009. Brown trout populations were remarkably reduced after the beginning of flushing operations, but appeared to reach equilibrium with the new environmental conditions. Macroinvertebrate fauna, despite exhibiting a significant reduction in abundance and biomass following each flushing, showed a quick recovery within 3 months. Nevertheless, the yearly occurrence of sediment flushing changed the taxa composition, allowing species with fast life cycle and good colonizing ability to become dominant. Particle size analysis of core samples collected in riffle habitats provide evidence of a significant increase in interstitial fine sediment, that could adversely affect the recovery processes. Maximum allowable SSCs of 10 g L-1(daily average) and 5 g L-1(overall average) for flushing operations carried out in small to medium high-gradient Alpine streams are recommend. In the same river network, a data set (n=30) of free-flowing and altered flow streams was used to detect the effects of water diversion on macroinvertebrate communities using single and multimetric indices as well multivariate approaches. Although macroinvertebrate diversity decreased significantly in response to reduced flows, the results suggest that invertebrate-based metrics may be poor descriptors of the magnitude of flow reduction. A consistent pattern in the dataset was demonstrated through multivariate analysis by groups of taxa that were respectively reduced or increased in abundance at the impaired sites, confirming that diversions are potentially responsible for a change in macroinvertebrate composition. The findings of this research showed how both activities have the potential to alter biological communities, but even that could be managed together to minimize risks. Considering obtained results this project will help support current and future research of Alpine stream ecosystems and will provide information for a management of freshwater resource balancing economical, technical and environmental issues.
Keywords: suspended solids, flushing, reservoir, water diversion, brown trout, invertebrate, alpine stream, hydropower, effects
Issue Date: 2010
Doctoral course: Analisi, Protezione e Gestione delle Biodiversità
Academic cycle: 23
Publisher: Università degli Studi dell'Insubria
Citation: Castelli, E.Sustainable management of hydraulic diversions in fluvial ecosystem. (Doctoral Thesis, Università degli Studi dell'Insubria, 2010).

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