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Keywords:

  • Ephemeroptera;
  • Mayflies;
  • Regulated rivers;
  • Dams;
  • Water temperature;
  • Life cycles

Abstract

Impoundment and diversion of watercourses for power production and water supply can have profound effects on the mayfly fauna. To explain such effects a species-specific approach is adopted on account of differing habitat requirements and life histories in the order and even within genera. Environmental conditions such as discharge and flow patterns, temperature, food availability, and predation may be changed. This leads to changes in the density and species composition of the mayfly community, especially when there is a hypolimnion drain from reservoirs. Temperature changes below such reservoirs may remove obligatory life cycle thresholds. Prolonged periods of low discharge lead to the dominance of genera, such as Paraleptophlebia, Choroterpes, Siphlonurus, and Pseudocloen, typical of slow-flowing and lentic habitats.

The life cycle plasticity and opportunism shown by Baetis rhodani in Europe and B. tricaudatus in North America have undoubtedly contributed to their success in regulated rivers. The life history characteristics of Tricorythodes are also advantageous below dams. The increased growth of periphyton and mosses below many dams favour certain Ephemerellidae, but restrict or eliminate many Heptageniidae. In order to survive adverse conditions, flexible life cycles or a short period of rapid nymphal growth coupled with a long period of egg development, are advantageous.