(b)Fragmentation of river ecosystems
A dam also acts as a barrier between the upstream and downstream habitatof migratory river animals, such as chinook and steelhead salmon in the USAand Atlantic salmon in Europe. Dams block their migration upstreamtospawn, threatening to decrease reproduction numbers and reduce thespecies population. Fish sometimes have difficulty migrating downstreamthrough a dam, meaning that downstream populations are often reducedunless, the fish are able to swim safely through the dams’ spillways
(c) Sedimentation behind the dam
Rivers carry four different types of sediment down their riverbeds, allowing for the formation of riverbanks, river deltas, alluvial fans, braided rivers, oxbowlakes, levees and coastal shores. The construction of a dam blocks the flow of sediment downstream, leading to downstream erosion of these Sedimentarydepositional environment depositional environments, and increased sedimentbuild-up in the reservoir.
(d)Riverline and coastal erosion
As all dams result in reduced sediment load downstream, a dammed river issaid to be “hungry” for sediment. Because the rate of deposition of sedimentis greatly reduced since there is less to deposit but the rate of erosion remainsnearly constant, the water flow eats away at the river shores and riverbed,threatening shoreline ecosystems, deepening the riverbed, and narrowing theriver over time. This leads to a compromised water table, reduced water levels, homogenization of the river flow and thus reduced ecosystemvariability, reduced support for wildlife, and reduced amount of sedimentreaching coastal plains and deltas.
Impacts on fish
Few fish are adapted to both lotic and lentic habitats. Consequently, thetransformation of a river to a reservoir often results in the extirpation of residentriverine species. Downstream of dams, marked changes in fish populations occur asa consequence of blockage of migration routes, disconnection of the river andfloodplain and changes in flow regime, physiochemical lconditions (e.g. temperature,turbidity and dissolved oxygen), primary production and channel morphology. Thesechanges may benefit some species but they generally have an adverse effect on themajority of native species. The 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals includes617 freshwater fishes (i.e. about6% of the known number of freshwater species).Other researchers have speculated that globally between 20% and 35% of allfreshwater fish are threatened (Staissny 1996). Although the loss of species is notsolely a consequence of dams, they are one of the principal factors. It is estimatedthat half the fish stocks endemic to the Pacific coast of the USA have been lost in thepast century to a large extent because of dam construction.