Designer river flows can benefit native fish over introduced fish species

A new study shows that dams can be designed to benefit native fish, instead of only harming them. Eighteen years of data were collected about river flow, native fish species, and nonnative fish species in a large dryland river basin in the southwestern US, and then analysed to find the best patterns of water release for native fish species. Remarkably, releasing water from the dams in a designer pattern could produce benefits for native fish species that are even greater than the benefits of mimicking natural river flow patterns. Thus, designer river flows can ensure that dams provide both human and ecological benefits if managed carefully. The new research by recent SAFS/QERM MS graduate William Chen and Prof. Julian Olden appears in Nature Communications and was featured as the top story in UW News.

The study site area, showing the San Juan River Basin and the Navajo Dam.
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