Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Response of benthic macroinvertebrates to dam removal in the restoration of the Boardman River, Michigan, USA.

Abstract

Dam removal is an increasingly important method of stream restoration, but most removal efforts are under-studied in their effects. In order to better understand the effects of such removals on the stream ecosystem, we examined changes in stream macroinvertebrate communities from 2011-2016. Comparisons were focused above, below, and before and after the October 2012 removal of the Brown Bridge Dam on the Boardman River in Michigan (USA), as well as to new channel sites created in its former reservoir (2013-2015). Using linear mixed-effect models on the percent abundance of ecologically sensitive taxa (% Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera (EPT)), total density of all macroinvertebrates, overall taxa richness, and Functional Feeding Groups, along with multivariate analyses on the community matrix, we examined differences in community composition among sites and years. EPT declined downstream of the dam immediately after dam removal, but recovered in the second year, becoming dominant within 2-4 years. Downstream sites before removal had different community composition than upstream sites and downstream sites after removal (p<0.001), while upstream and downstream sites after removal converged towards similarity. New channel (restored) %EPT, density, and taxa richness were not different from upstream sites in any year following removal, but new channel sites were the most distinct in community composition, possessing multiple indicator taxa characteristic of unique new conditions. The invasive New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) was absent from all sites prior to dam removal, but appeared at low densities in upstream sites in 2013, had spread to all sites by 2015, and showed large increases at all sites by 2016. Managers employing dam removal for stream restoration should include post-removal monitoring for multiple years following removal and conduct risk analysis regarding potential effects on colonization of invasive invertebrate species.