Graduate Theses & Dissertations

EXPLORING THE EFFECTS OF WATERPOWER OPERATIONS ON RIVERINE ECOSYSTEMS ACROSS NORTHERN ONTARIO
In this study, we attempt to enhance current knowledge of ecological responses to riverine alterations from waterpower by using a bottom-up food up approach. A series of extensive and intensive study components were performed across northern Ontario, Canada, where biological (nutrients, dissolved organic matter (DOM) and periphyton) and physical (water level and thermal regimes) ecological indicators were examined in regards to alterations from dams and waterpower facilities. Overall, we found that the water levels and thermal regimes deviated from their reference condition at sites below the dams, whereas the biological indicators were more resilient to river alterations. Our results suggest that the characteristics of the watershed were influential in controlling the variability of nutrients and DOM resources in rivers within the boreal watersheds of northern Ontario, as well as the for the downstream recovery patterns of the physical indicators. The recovery of the periphyton communities downstream of the dams were also predicted to be cumulatively related to the physical alterations, nutrient availability and the possible displacement of invertebrate communities. Therefore, our bottom-up food web approach was not effective for better understanding how ecological responses from waterpower cascade through aquatic food webs, and instead multiple indicators should be used for examining the ecological responses in these particular river systems. Author Keywords: dissolved organic matter, ecological indicators, river alteration, waterpower facilities

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