Recovery of a tropical stream after a harvest-related chlorine poisoning event

GREATHOUSE, EFFIE A.; MARCH, JAMES G.; PRINGLE; CATHERINE M. 2005. Recovery of a tropical stream after a harvest-related chlorine poisoning event.. Freshwater Biology 50, :603-615.

1. Harvest-related poisoning events are common in tropical streams, yet research on stream recovery has largely been limited to temperate streams and generally does not include any measures of ecosystem function, such as leaf breakdown. 2. We assessed recovery of a second-order, high-gradient stream draining the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico, 3 months after a chlorine-bleach poisoning event. The illegal poisoning of freshwater shrimps for harvest caused massive mortality of shrimps and dramatic changes in those ecosystem properties influenced by shrimps. We determined recovery potential using an established recovery index and assessed actual recovery by examining whether the poisoned reach returned to conditions resembling an undisturbed upstream reference reach. 3. Recovery potential was excellent (score ¼ 729 of a possible 729) and can be attributed to nearby sources of organisms for colonisation, the mobility of dominant organisms, unimpaired habitat, rapid flushing and processing of chlorine, and location within a national forest. 4. Actual recovery was substantial. Comparison of the reference reach with the formerly poisoned reach indicated: (1) complete recovery of xiphocaridid and palaemonid shrimp population abundances, shrimp size distributions, leaf breakdown rates, and abundances of oligochaetes and mayflies on leaves, and (2) only small differences in atyid shrimp abundance and community and ecosystem properties influenced by atyid shrimps(standing stocks of epilithic fine inorganic and organic matter, chlorophyll a, and abundances of chironomids and copepods on leaves). 5. There was no detectable pattern between any measured variables and distance downstream from the poisoning. However, shrimp size-distributions indicated that the observed recovery may represent a source-sink dynamic, in which the poisoned reach acts as a sink which depletes adult shrimp populations from surrounding undisturbed habitats. Thus, the rapid recovery observed in this study is consistent with results from other field studies of pulse chlorine disturbances, harvest-related fish poisonings, and recovery of freshwater biotic interactions, but it is unlikely to be sustainable if multiple poisonings deplete adult populations to the extent that juvenile recruitment does not offset adult shrimp mortality.


Spatial and temporal variabilities of rainfall in Puerto Rico are significant. A predominant storm distribution considered to be representative of a critical storm for design purposes in Puerto Rico is the Soil Conservation Service [SCS] Type II distribution. The main objective of this project was to determine the temporal rainfall distributions of extreme storms in the historical records in Puerto Rico and their similarities with well known design storms published in the literature. The impact of rainstorm sequences on the response of a typical small watershed was evaluated. The sensitivity of the watershed runoff response to rainfall record sampling time interval, curve number and lag time was determined. Extreme rainfall sequence events were identified from the historical records by comparing the historic rainfall sequences with the SCS Type II distribution. 24-hour rainfall periods with a sequence of rainfall similar to the SCS Type II distribution were found. These were not necessarily periods of continuous rainfall. These critical rainfall sequences were mainly the result of low pressure troughs. The historical impacts of the rainfall events with distribution similar to Type II were significant and site specific effects such as flooding and landslides were documented. The time interval of the sample had an effect on the response of the watershed used in this study. This difference in the watershed response is reduced as the lag time is increased.

V FRIEND World Conference, Havana, Cuba, 2006 Hydrological Impacts of Climate Variability and Change Selected presentations on Latin America and the Caribbean

The science of water is an endless world for scientific research and creativity, in the water all the needs converge, the feelings and human traditions, water is the origin of life and its sustain, water is food supply, and it is also a base of the culture, traditions and religions; and, unfortunately, the cause of diverse conflicts among people and countries. Water is a renewable, but finite resource, endangered in many places by its non-rational use, in such a proportion, that the unmeasured disposal of pollutants in the water bodies or its exploitation over its natural capacity of renewal, might also put at risk its condition of renewable resource. Water is under the threat of climatic change that will affect its spatial and temporal distribution in a negative way in every place. The environmental situation of Latin America and the Caribbean is fragile, and particularly in relation to water many threats exist that justify the need of urgent actions. The intensive deforestation in the tropical forest and woods from temperate and cold regions; the modification or destruction of coastal ecosystems, the high degree of erosion due to inadecuated agriculture practices and incorrect use of the soil; the indiscriminated use of chemical and synthetic products in agriculture and urban industries; integrated to global environmental problems, among them, climate change and the ozone layer depletion, are being felt in different degrees in various parts of the continent. An evaluation of the Forum of Ministries of Environment in Latin America and the Caribbean, carried out in Bridgetown, Barbados, in 2000, recognized the continuation of the environmental deterioration in the region and in analizing the problem of water, the following were indicated among the main problems:

Spatial dependence and the relationship of soil organic carbon and soil moisture in the luquillo experimental forest, puerto rico

Wang H, Hall CAS, Cornell JD, Hall MHP.
2002. Spatial dependence and the relationship
of soil organic carbon and soil moisture in Luquillo experimental forest. Landsc.
Ecol. 17:671–84

We used geo-spatial statistical techniques to examine the spatial variation and relationship of soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil moisture (SM) in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF), Puerto Rico, in order to test the hypothesis that mountainous terrain introduces spatial autocorrelation and crosscorrelation in ecosystem and soil properties. Soil samples (n = 100) were collected from the LEF in the summer of 1998 and analyzed for SOC, SM, and bulk density (BD). A global positioning system was used to georeference the location of each sampling site. At each site, elevation, slope and aspect were recorded. We calculated the isotropic and anisotropic semivariograms of soil and topographic properties, as well as the cross-variograms between SOC and SM, and between SOC and elevation. Then we used four models (random, linear, spherical and wave/hole) to test the semivariances of SOC, SM, BD, elevation, slope and aspect for spatial dependence. Our results indicate that all the studied properties except slope angle exhibit spatial dependence within the scale of sampling (200 – 1000 m sampling interval). The spatially structured variance (the variance due to the location of sampling sites) accounted for a large proportion of the sample variance for elevation (99%), BD (90%), SOC (68%), aspect (56%) and SM (44%). The ranges of spatial dependence (the distances within which parameters are spatially dependent) for aspect, SOC, elevation, SM, and BD were 9810 m, 3070 m, 1120 m, 930 m and 430 m, respectively. Cross correlograms indicate that SOC varies closely with elevation and SM depending on the distances between samples. The correlation can shift from positive to negative as the separation distance increases. Larger ranges of spatial dependence of SOC, aspect and elevation indicate that the distribution of SOC in the LEF is determined by a combination of biotic (e.g., litterfall) and abiotic factors (e.g., microclimate and topographic features) related to elevation and aspect. This demonstrates the importance of both elevation and topographic gradients in controlling climate, vegetation distribution and soil properties as well as the associated biogeochemical processes in the LEF.


Heartsill-Scalley T, Aide TM. 2003. Riparian vegetation and stream condition
in a tropical agriculture–secondary forest mosaic. Ecological
Applications 13: 225–234.

Changes in land cover from forest to agriculture often alter riparian vegetation, which modifies the physical conditions of streams. To understand the impacts of different categories of land cover on riparian and stream habitats, we sampled riparian vegetation and stream conditions in three adjacent watersheds in southeastern Puerto Rico. Land cover categories (pasture, mixed, and forest) were determined using aerial photographs. Vegetation structure and composition and characteristics of streams were assessed for 35 riparian sites. Sites were located along first-order streams, at 400–600 m elevation in the wet-forest life zone. Understory vegetation in the forest sites was mainly shrubs, herbs, and ferns, whereas the mixed and pasture sites were dominated by grasses, vines, and bare soil. Syzygium jambos and Spathodea campanulata, nonnatives, and Guarea guidonia, a native, were the most common tree species in the riparian areas. Surrounding land cover explained .60% of the variation among stream sites. There was a positive relationship between tree cover and percentage of dissolved oxygen, and a negative relationship between tree cover and percentage of substrata covered by sediments from eroded soil. The amount of woody debris in the streams tended to increase with forest cover. Overall, land cover is a landscape feature that effectively characterized riparian understory cover, tree species composition, and stream condition

Effects of drought and hurricane disturbances on headwater distributions of palaemonid river shrimp (Macrobrachium spp.) in the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico

Covich, Alan P.; Crowl, Todd A.; Heartsill-Scalley, Tamara 2006. Effects of drought and hurricane disturbances on headwater distributions of palaemonid river shrimp (Macrobrachium spp.) in the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico.. J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc., 25(1):99-107.

Extreme events (hurricanes, floods, and droughts) can influence upstream migration of macroinvertebrates and wash out benthic communities, thereby locally altering food webs and species interactions. We sampled palaemonid river shrimp (Macrobrachium spp.), dominant consumers in headwaters of the Luquillo Mountains of northeastern Puerto Rico, to determine their distributions along an elevational gradient (274–456 m asl) during a series of disturbances (Hurricane Hugo in 1989, a drought in 1994, and Hurricane Georges in 1998) that occurred over a 15-y period (19882002).We measured shrimp abundance 3 to 6 times/y in Quebrada Prieta in the Espiritu Santo drainage as part of the Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research Program. In general, Macrobrachium abundance declined with elevation during most years. The lowest mean abundance of Macrobrachium occurred during the 1994 drought, the driest year in 28 y of record in the Espiritu Santo drainage. Macrobrachium increased in abundance for 6 y following the 1994 drought. In contrast, hurricanes and storm flows had relatively little effect on Macrobrachium abundance.

Precipitation distribution and raingage networks in the luquillo mountains

R. G. CLEMENTS. 1979. Precipitation distribution
and raingage networks in the Luquillo Mountains, p.
57-66. Zn River basin energy and environmental
planning. Univ. Puerto Rico, CEER-T-40.

Does the river continuum concept apply on a tropical island? Longitudinal variation in a Puerto Rican stream

Greathouse,Effie A.; Pringle, Catherine M. 2006. Does the river continuum concept apply on a tropical island? Longitudinal variation in a Puerto Rican stream.. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 63: 134-152.

We examined whether a tropical stream in Puerto Rico matched predictions of the river continuum concept (RCC) for macroinvertebrate functional feeding groups (FFGs). Sampling sites for macroinvertebrates, basal resources, and fishes ranged from headwaters to within 2.5 km of the fourth-order estuary. In a comparison with a model temperate system in which RCC predictions generally held, we used catchment area as a measure of stream size to examine truncated RCC predictions (i.e., cut off to correspond to the largest stream size sampled in Puerto Rico). Despite dominance of generalist freshwater shrimps, which use more than one feeding mode, RCC predictions held for scrapers, shredders, and predators. Collector–filterers showed a trend opposite to that predicted by the RCC, but patterns in basal resources suggest that this is consistent with the central RCC theme: longitudinal distributions of FFGs follow longitudinal patterns in basal resources. Alternatively, the filterer pattern may be explained by fish predation affecting distributions of filter-feeding shrimp. Our results indicate that the RCC generally applies to running waters on tropical islands. However, additional theoretical and field studies across a broad array of stream types should examine whether the RCC needs to be refined to reflect the potential influence of top-down trophic controls on FFG distributions.



Large dams degrade the integrity of a wide variety of ecosystems, yet direct downstream effects of dams have received the most attention from ecosystem managers and researchers. We investigated indirect upstream effects of dams resulting from decimation of migratory freshwater shrimp and fish populations in Puerto Rico, USA, in both high- and low-gradient streams. In high-gradient streams above large dams, native shrimps and fishes were extremely rare, whereas similar sites without large dams had high abundances of native consumers. Losses of native fauna above dams dramatically altered their basal food resources and assemblages of invertebrate competitors and prey. Compared to pools in high-gradient streams with no large dams, pool epilithon above dams had nine times more algal biomass, 20 times more fine benthic organic matter (FBOM), 65 times more fine benthic inorganic matter (FBIM), 28 times more carbon, 19 times more nitrogen, and four times more non-decapod invertebrate biomass. High-gradient riffles upstream from large dams had five times more FBIM than did undammed riffles but showed no difference in algal abundance, FBOM, or non-decapod invertebrate biomass. For epilithon of lowgradient streams, differences in basal resources between pools above large dams vs. without large dams were considerably smaller in magnitude than those observed for pools in highgradient sites. These results match previous stream experiments in which the strength of native shrimp and fish effects increased with stream gradient. Our results demonstrate that dams can indirectly affect upstream free-flowing reaches by eliminating strong top-down effects of consumers. Migratory omnivorous shrimps and fishes occur throughout the tropics, and the consequences of their declines upstream from many tropical dams are likely to be similar to those in Puerto Rico. Thus, ecological effects of migratory fauna loss upstream from dams encompass a wider variety of species interactions and biomes than the bottom-up effects (i.e., elimination of salmonid nutrient subsidies) recognized for northern temperate systems.

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.
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