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Nekton response to freshwater inputs in a temperate European Estuary with regulated riverine inflow

AuthorsGonzález-Ortegón, Enrique ; Subida, María Dulce; Arias, Alberto M. ; Baldó, Francisco; Cuesta, José A. ; Fernández-Delgado, Carlos; Vilas, César; Drake, Pilar
Freshwater inputs
Guadalquivir estuary
Environmental conditions
Issue Date1-Dec-2012
CitationScience of the Total Environment 440: 261-271 (2012)
AbstractThe aim of this 12-year study was to assess the nekton (fish, decapod crustaceans) response to freshwater inputs (rainfall, dam discharges) in a temperate estuary with regulated riverine inflow. Although interannual variability in river discharges to the Guadalquivir estuary has been extremely high since the construction of a dam in 1930, a significant decreasing trend in the dam's discharges has been observed in the last 80. years. During this study, an alternation of wet, standard and dry years occurred in the estuarine area but no significant long-term trend was observed. River discharge, in turn, showed a considerable interannual variability and a significantly decreasing long-term trend. Freshwater inputs had an immediate effect on estuarine salinity and turbidity, and consequently on prey availability (mysids). Although 124 nektonic species were collected, only 47 of them (adding up to 99.7% of total abundance) were regularly present in the estuary: 32 marine migrants, 13 estuarine species and 2 diadromous species. Well-defined temporal changes in species composition and abundance yielded clear seasonal patterns in the estuarine nektonic community. Considerable intermonth and interannual changes were occasionally observed relating to freshwater inputs, mainly in winter/autumn of wet years. Thus, within each two-month period, some significant interannual differences in the nektonic community were also observed, with marine migrants tending to be more abundant in dry years. However, changes in the studied nektonic community did not show long-term trends. In conclusion, natural and human-controlled freshwater inputs currently play a significant role in determining the physicochemical conditions and the biota of the Guadalquivir estuary. However, although freshwater input seemed to transitorily affect the estuarine nekton, either directly (flushing out) or indirectly (through changes in salinity, turbidity and prey availability), a quick reestablishment of the estuarine nekton (strong resilience) was observed following freshwater inputs together with the recovery of environmental conditions within the estuary. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.06.061
issn: 0048-9697
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