Aguiar, F.C.; Fernandes, M.R.; Martins, M.J.; Ferreira, M.T. 2019. Effects of a Large Irrigation Reservoir on Aquatic and Riparian Plants: A History of Survival and Loss. Water, 11, 2379. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11112379
Abstract: Dammed rivers have unnatural stream flows, disrupted sediment dynamics, and rearranged geomorphologic settings. Consequently, fluvial biota experiences disturbed functioning in the novel ecosystems. The case study is the large irrigation reservoir Alqueva in Guadiana River, Southern Iberia. The study area was divided into three zones: upstream and downstream of the dam and reservoir. For each zone, species composition and land use and land cover (LULC) were compared before and after the Alqueva Dam implementation. Data consist of aquatic and riparian flora composition obtained from 46 surveys and the area (%) of 12 classes of LULC obtained in 90 riverine sampling units through the analysis of historical and contemporary imagery. There was an overall decrease of several endemic species and on the riparian shrublands and aquatic stands, although differences in the proportion of functional groups were not significant. Nevertheless, compositional diversity shows a significant decline in the upstream zone while landscape diversity shows an accentuated reduction in the reservoir area and downstream of the dam, which is likely related to the loss of the rocky habitats of the ‘old’ Guadiana River and the homogenization of the riverscape due to the irrigation intensification. The mitigation of these critical changes should be site-specific and should rely on the knowledge of the interactions between surrounding lands, ecological, biogeomorphologic, and hydrological components of the fluvial ecosystems.