Pringle C.M.

Conservation and management of migratory fauna and dams in tropical streams of Puerto Rico

Greathouse, E. A., C. M. Pringle, and J. G. Holmquist.
2006. Conservation and management of migratory
fauna: dams in tropical streams of Puerto
Rico. Aquatic Conservation 16:695–712.

1. Compared to most other tropical regions, Puerto Rico appears to have dammed its running waters decades earlier and to a greater degree. The island has more large dams per unit area than many countries in both tropical and temperate regions (e.g., 3x that of the U.S.), and the peak rate of large dam construction occurred two and three decades prior to reported peak rates in Latin America, Asia and Africa. 2. Puerto Rico is a potential window into the future of freshwater migratory fauna in tropical regions, given the island’s extent and magnitude of dam development and the available scientific information on ecology and management of the island’s migratory fauna. 3. We review ecology, management and conservation of migratory fauna in relation to dams in Puerto Rico. Our review includes a synthesis of recent and unpublished observations on upstream effects of large dams on migratory fauna and an analysis of patterns in free crest spillway discharge across Puerto Rican reservoirs. Analyses suggest that large dams with rare spillway discharge cause near, not complete, extirpation of upstream populations of migratory fauna. They also suggest several management and conservation issues in need of further research and consideration. These include research on the costs, benefits and effectiveness of simple fish/shrimp passage designs involving simulating spillway discharge and the appropriateness of establishing predatory fishes in reservoirs of historically fishless drainages.

A method to assess longitudinal riverine connectivity in tropical streams dominated by migratory biota

Crook, Kelly E.; Pringle, Catherine M.; Freeman, Mary C. 2009. A method to assess longitudinal riverine connectivity in tropical streams dominated by migratory data. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 19: 714-723.

1. One way in which dams affect ecosystem function is by altering the distribution and abundance of aquatic species. 2. Previous studies indicate that migratory shrimps have significant effects on ecosystem processes in Puerto Rican streams, but are vulnerable to impediments to upstream or downstream passage, such as dams and associated water intakes where stream water is withdrawn for human water supplies. Ecological effects of dams and water withdrawals from streams depend on spatial context and temporal variability of flow in relation to the amount of water withdrawn. 3. This paper presents a conceptual model for estimating the probability that an individual shrimp is able to migrate from a stream’s headwaters to the estuary as a larva, and then return to the headwaters as a juvenile, given a set of dams and water withdrawals in the stream network. The model is applied to flow and withdrawal data for a set of dams and water withdrawals in the Caribbean National Forest (CNF) in Puerto Rico. 4. The index of longitudinal riverine connectivity (ILRC), is used to classify 17 water intakes in streams draining the CNF as having low, moderate, or high connectivity in terms of shrimp migration in both directions. An in-depth comparison of two streams showed that the stream characterized by higher water withdrawal had low connectivity, even during wet periods. Severity of effects is illustrated by a drought year, where the most downstream intake caused 100% larval shrimp mortality 78% of the year. 5. The ranking system provided by the index can be used as a tool for conservation ecologists and water resource managers to evaluate the relative vulnerability of migratory biota in streams, across different scales (reach-network), to seasonally low flows and extended drought. This information can be used to help evaluate the environmental tradeoffs of future water withdrawals.

Immigration history of amphidromous species on a Greater Antillean island

Cook, Benjamin D.; Pringle, Catherine M.; Hughes, Jane M. 2010. Immigration history of amphidromous species on a Greater Antillean island. Journal of Biogeography. 37: 270-277.

Aim To use molecular data to test for dispersal structuring in the immigration history of an amphidromous community on an island. Location The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. Methods Mitochondrial DNA sequences were obtained from 11 amphidromous species, including shrimps, fish and a gastropod, sampled from throughout the island. The timing of population expansion (TE) in each species was calculated using nucleotide variation and molecular clock dating methods. The order of species accumulation was then reconstructed (oldest to most recent estimate for TE), and groups of species with non-overlapping estimates for TE were identified. The temporal span and average immigration rate for each group were calculated and compared with expectations of two previously published models of island immigration [the ‘dispersal-structured model of island recolonization’ (Whittaker & Jones, Oikos, 1994, 69, 524–529), which predicts short phases of rapid immigration followed by extended phases with relatively slow immigration rates; and the ‘colonization window hypothesis’ (Carine, Taxon, 2005, 54, 895–903), which suggests that opportunities for island colonization are temporally constrained to discrete waves of colonization]. Results The molecular data indicated the immigration history of Puerto Rican amphidromous fauna from the late Pleistocene through the Holocene and identified two groups of species with non-overlapping estimates for TE and one group that overlapped with the other two groups. The temporal span, average immigration rate and lack of discreteness between all three groups indicated a continuum of immigration rather than distinct phases of species arrivals. Main conclusions This study did not support the expectations of the immigration models and suggested that amphidromous species from Puerto Rico comprise a single class of marine-based dispersers. The immigration sequence we report probably reflects a recolonization chronology in this community, in keeping with the notion of species turnover through time. Four areas of future research into the immigration history of amphidromous species on islands are identified, and indicated the possibility that equilibrium processes govern long-term community change in amphidromous biota on islands

Water Withdrawn From the Luquillo Experimental Forest, 2004

Crook, Kelly E.; Scatena, Fred N.; Pringle, Catherine M. 2007. Water Withdrawn From the Luquillo Experimental Forest, 2004. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry. Gen. Tech. Rep. IITF-GTR-34.

This study quantifies the amount of water withdrawn from the Luqillo Experimental Forest (LEF) in 2004. Spatially averaged mean monthly water budgets were generated for watersheds draining the LEF by combining long-term data from various government agencies with estimated extraction data. Results suggest that, on a typical day, 70 percent of water generated within the forest is diverted before reaching the ocean. This is up from an estimated 54 percent in 1994. Analysis showed that up to 63 percent of average monthly stream runoff is diverted from individual watersheds during drier months. Watersheds with large water intakes have the most dramatic decrease in streamflow, particularly the Río Espiritu Santo watershed, where 82 percent of median flow is diverted.

Transforming tropical rivers: an environmental perspective on hydropower development in Costa Rica

Anderson E, Pringle C, Rojas M (2006) Transforming tropical rivers: an environmental perspective on hydropower development in Costa Rica. Aquatic Conservation-Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 16: 679–693

1. Tropical rivers are increasingly being altered by hydropower dams. In Costa Rica, more than 30 hydropower plants were built during the 1990s and more dams are being proposed. Hydropower dams currently provide more than 80% of electricity consumed by the country’s 4 million residents, yet most of Costa Rica’s hydropower potential remains untapped. 2. Ecological consequences of dams in Costa Rica stem primarily from river fragmentation, stream de-watering, and downstream hydrological alterations. Dams affect distribution and abundance of aquatic biota, especially migratory species. Cumulative effects of multiple dams on individual river basins, especially in the northern part of the country, are also of concern but have not been adequately documented. 3. In light of recent hydropower development, we recommend conservation strategies that protect remaining free-flowing rivers, call for assessment of ecological impacts of dams on a broader scale, encourage research on aquatic systems and sustainable hydropower technologies, and promote the development of methods for estimating environmental flows for Costa Rican rivers. Copyright # 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Anderson EP, Freeman MC, Pringle CM. 2006a. Ecological consequences of hydropower development in Central America: impacts of small
dams and water diversion on neotropical stream fish assemblages. River Research and Applications 22: 397–411.

Small dams for hydropower have caused widespread alteration of Central American rivers, yet much of recent development has gone undocumented by scientists and conservationists. We examined the ecological effects of a small hydropower plant (Don˜a Julia Hydroelectric Center) on two low-order streams (the Puerto Viejo River and Quebradon stream) draining a mountainous area of Costa Rica. Operation of the Don˜a Julia plant has dewatered these streams, reducing discharge to 10% of average annual flow. This study compared fish assemblage composition and aquatic habitat upstream and downstream of diversion dams on two streams and along a 4 km dewatered reach of the Puerto Viejo River in an attempt to evaluate current instream flow recommendations for regulated Costa Rican streams. Our results indicated that fish assemblages directly upstream and downstream of the dam on the third order Puerto Viejo River were dissimilar, suggesting that the small dam (<15m high) hindered movement of fishes. Along the 4 km dewatered reach of the Puerto Viejo River, species count increased with downstream distance from the dam. However, estimated species richness and overall fish abundance were not significantly correlated with downstream distance from the dam. Our results suggested that effects of stream dewatering may be most pronounced for a subset of species with more complex reproductive requirements, classified as equilibrium-type species based on their life-history. In the absence of changes to current operations, we expect that fish assemblages in the Puerto Viejo River will be increasingly dominated by opportunistic-type, colonizing fish species. Operations of many other small hydropower plants in Costa Rica and other parts of Central America mirror those of Don˜a Julia; the methods and results of this study may be applicable to some of those projects. Copyright # 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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