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  • 1. Aguiar, Francisca C.
    et al.
    Segurado, Pedro
    Martins, Maria Joao
    Bejarano, Maria Dolores
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Nilsson, Christer
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Portela, Maria Manuela
    Merritt, David M.
    The abundance and distribution of guilds of riparian woody plants change in response to land use and flow regulation2018In: Journal of Applied Ecology, ISSN 0021-8901, E-ISSN 1365-2664, Vol. 55, no 5, p. 2227-2240Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    1. Many riparian ecosystems in Mediterranean Europe are affected by land use and flow alteration by dams. We focused on understanding how these stressors and their components affect riparian forests in the region. We asked the following questions: (1) Are there well‐defined, responsive riparian guilds? (2) Do dam‐induced streamflows determine abundance and distribution of riparian guilds? (3) What are the main drivers governing composition and cover of riparian guilds in regulated rivers?

    2. We inventoried the cover of riparian woody species in free‐flowing rivers and downstream of dams. We performed a cluster analysis and ordination to derive riparian guilds, using abundance data from 66 riparian woody species and 26 functional plant traits. We used a reduced set of principal components for the environment, land use and hydrology, and general linear modelling to explore the effect of these factors (separately and combined) on riparian guilds.

    3. We found that: (1) four dominant guilds are responsive to disturbance in southwestern European streams, namely the obligate riparian, water‐stress tolerant, deciduous competitive and Mediterranean evergreen guilds; (2) a set of land use and hydrological variables differentially affect the diverse co‐occurring riparian guilds; (3) frequency and duration of high flow pulses and the low‐flow conditions were major drivers of change in landscapes dominated by intensive agriculture and forestry; (4) storage reservoirs reduced the cover of obligate riparian and Mediterranean evergreen guilds, and increased the abundance of water‐stress tolerant and deciduous competitive guilds, while run‐of‐river dams, having limited water storage, reduced both obligate and deciduous competitive guilds.

    4. Synthesis and applications. Future research in southwestern Europe should address the resilience of riparian guilds and the effects of interacting landscape factors and stressors on guild distribution. Streamflow regulations downstream of reservoirs should focus on specific flow components, namely the magnitude of flows, and frequency and duration of extreme flow events. For successful mitigation of the dam‐induced effects on riparian vegetation, river management plans must incorporate the environmental and land use site‐specific contexts.

  • 2. Alonso, Carlos
    et al.
    Roman, Alfonso
    Bejarano, Maria Dolores
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Garcia de Jalon, Diego
    Carolli, Mauro
    A graphical approach to characterize sub-daily flow regimes and evaluate its alterations due to hydropeaking2017In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026, Vol. 574, p. 532-543Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Most flow regime characterizations focus on long time scale flow patterns, which are not precise enough to capture key components of short-term flow fluctuations. Recent proposed methods describing sub-daily flow fluctuations are focused on limited components of the flow regime being unable to fully represent it, or on the identification of peaking events based on subjectively defined thresholds, being unsuitable for evaluations of short-term flow regime alterations through comparisons between regulated and free-flowing rivers. This study aims to launch an innovative approach based on the visual display of quantitative information to address the challenge of the short-term hydrologic characterization and evaluation of alteration resulting from hydropeaking. We propose a graphical method to represent a discrete set of ecologically relevant indices that characterize and evaluate the alteration of sub-daily flow regimes. The frequency of occurrence of classified values of a descriptive hydrological variable is represented in a map-like graph where longitude, latitude and altitude represent the Julian day, the value of the variable and the frequency of occurrence, respectively. Subsequently, we tested the method on several rivers, both free-flowing and subjected to hydropower production. The advantages of our approach compared to other analytical methods are: (i) it displays a great amount of information without oversimplification; (ii) it takes into account changes in the intensity, timing and frequency of the sub-daily flows, without needing a priori defined thresholds to identify hydropeaking events; and (iii) it supports the Water Framework Directive goal. Specifically, results from applications of our graphical method agree with Sauterleute and Charmasson (2014) analytical method.

  • 3.
    Bejarano, Maria D.
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Jansson, Roland
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Nilsson, Christer
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    The effects of hydropeaking on riverine plants: a review2018In: Biological Reviews, ISSN 1464-7931, E-ISSN 1469-185X, Vol. 93, no 1, p. 658-673Article, review/survey (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Hydropeaking refers to frequent, rapid and short-term fluctuations in water flow and water levels downstream and upstream of hydropower stations. Such fluctuations are becoming increasingly common worldwide and are known to have far-reaching effects on riverine vegetation. Novel hydrology caused by hydropeaking has no natural correspondence in freshwater systems, and hence few species have adaptations to all its aspects. Here, we review the literature on hydropeaking effects on riverine plants and define the state of the information on this human alteration of riverine ecosystems. We focus on riparian plants, but also draw on information from aquatic plant species, which exhibit a wide variety of adaptations to inundation and associated processes. Riparian plants face both physiological and physical constraints because of the shifts between submergence and drainage, and erosion of substrates. At the population level, hydropeaking may favour dispersal within, but not between, reservoirs, but may hamper germination, establishment, growth and reproduction. At the community level, strong filtering towards easily dispersed, flexible, flood-tolerant and amphibious plants is expected, although few species share these traits. Hence, most riparian plant species are expected to disappear or be pushed towards the upper boundaries of the regulated river margin. Future research should examine more closely global variation in hydropeaking effects, including other taxonomic groups of species and the diversity of hydropeaking regimes. There is also a need for studies focusing on identifying the boundaries within which hydropeaking could operate without impairing plant life.

  • 4.
    Bejarano, Maria Dolores
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Nilsson, Christer
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Aguiar, Francisca Constanca
    Riparian plant guilds become simpler and most likely fewer following flow regulation2018In: Journal of Applied Ecology, ISSN 0021-8901, E-ISSN 1365-2664, Vol. 55, no 1, p. 365-376Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    1. River regulation affects riparian systems world-wide and conservation and restoration efforts are essential to retain biodiversity, and the functioning and services of riverine ecosystems. Effects of regulation on plant species richness have been widely addressed, but the filtering effect of regulation on guilds has received less attention.

    2. We used a functional trait approach to identify adaptive plant strategies through regulation-tolerant traits and predict shifts of riparian vegetation communities in response to regulation. We analysed variation in functional diversity across gradients of hydrological alteration in northern Sweden in relation to modified timing and infrequent major floods, along with frequent short-term inundation.

    3. Functional richness was similar in all study sites, but species richness declined with increasing intensity of regulation, and the species lost were largely functionally redundant (i.e. co-existing species that have similar contribution to an ecosystem function). Guilds of species intolerant to waterlogging were particularly unsuccessful in most regulated sites as they were affected by hydropower dams which replace major fluvial disturbances with frequent short inundation events. We predict that this guild will disappear, with likely consequences for the entire riverine ecosystem.

    4. Synthesis and applications. We conclude that functional traits tolerant to waterlogging or submergence and lack of major fluvial disturbances were key to understanding our results. We suggest that the functional trait approach can be integrated with knowledge of other ecosystem components to provide an understanding of ecosystem function that can be used to guide fluvial ecosystem management.

  • 5.
    Bejarano, Maria Dolores
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Sordo-Ward, Alvaro
    Alonso, Carlos
    Nilsson, Christer
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Characterizing effects of hydropower plants on sub-daily flow regimes2017In: Journal of Hydrology, ISSN 0022-1694, E-ISSN 1879-2707, Vol. 550, p. 186-200Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A characterization of short-term changes in river flow is essential for understanding the ecological effects of hydropower plants, which operate by turning the turbines on or off to generate electricity following variations in the market demand (i.e., hydropeaking). The goal of our study was to develop an approach for characterizing the effects of hydropower plant operations on within-day flow regimes across multiple dams and rivers. For this aim we first defined ecologically meaningful metrics that provide a full representation of the flow regime at short time scales from free-flowing rivers and rivers exposed to hydropeaking. We then defined metrics that enable quantification of the deviation of the altered short-term flow regime variables from those of the unaltered state. The approach was successfully tested in two rivers in northern Sweden, one free-flowing and another regulated by cascades of hydropower plants, which were additionally classified based on their impact on short-term flows in sites of similar management. The largest differences between study sites corresponded to metrics describing sub-daily flow magnitudes such as amplitude (i.e., difference between the highest and the lowest hourly flows) and rates (i.e., rise and fall rates of hourly flows). They were closely followed by frequency-related metrics accounting for the numbers of within-day hourly flow patterns (i.e., rises, falls and periods of stability of hourly flows). In comparison, between-site differences for the duration-related metrics were smallest. In general, hydropeaking resulted in higher within-day flow amplitudes and rates and more but shorter periods of a similar hourly flow patterns per day. The impacted flow feature and the characteristics of the impact (i.e., intensity and whether the impact increases or decreases whatever is being described by the metric) varied with season. Our approach is useful for catchment management planning, defining environmental flow targets, prioritizing river restoration or dam reoperation efforts and contributing information for relicensing hydropower dams. 

  • 6.
    Sarneel, Judith M.
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
    Bejarano, Maria D.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Natural Resources Department, Technical University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
    van Oosterhout, Martin
    Nilsson, Christer
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Local flooding history affects plant recruitment in riparian zones2019In: Journal of Vegetation Science, ISSN 1100-9233, E-ISSN 1654-1103, Vol. 30, no 2, p. 224-234Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Aims: Many rivers across the globe are severely impacted by changed flooding regimes, resulting in drastic shifts in vegetation, but the processes driving the exchange of flood‐sensitive and flood‐tolerant species are understood less. We studied the role of long‐term and recent flooding histories for riparian plant recruitment in response to various changes in flooding regime.

    Location: Vindel River catchment (Northern Sweden).

    Methods

    We experimentally changed long‐term flooding regimes by transplanting turfs between high and low elevations in 2000 and in 2014 (= 8 per treatment). We sowed seeds of five riparian species in both transplanted turfs and non‐transplanted controls and counted seedling numbers over two growing seasons. Further, we inventoried natural seedling frequencies in 190 plots in 19 reaches in 2013 and 2014, and related natural seedling numbers to plot flooding history in the period 2012–2014.

    Results: We observed effects of long‐term flooding history in the second year of the transplantation study (2015), but not in the first year. In 2015, turfs transplanted to locations with less flooding resulted in higher plant recruitment while transplantation to sites with more frequent flooding reduced recruitment compared to the controls. Since these differences were only found in recently transplanted turfs and not in older turfs, the legacy effect of long‐term flooding history can be transient. In the field seedling survey, similar differences were found between flooding‐history categories in 2013, but not in 2014, when the moisture conditions of the most recent year determined flooding. Further, lowest seedling numbers were observed when the previous flooding occurred in winter, and higher seedling numbers when floods occurred in spring or not at all.

    Conclusions: Both long‐term and recent flooding histories can affect plant recruitment, and their influence should be taken into account when designing restoration projects.

  • 7. Sordo-Ward, Alvaro
    et al.
    Dolores Bejarano, Maria
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Iglesias, Ana
    Asenjo, Victor
    Garrote, Luis
    Analysis of Current and Future SPEI Droughts in the La Plata Basin Based on Results from the Regional Eta Climate Model2017In: Water, ISSN 2073-4441, E-ISSN 2073-4441, Vol. 9, no 11, article id 857Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We identified and analysed droughts in the La Plata Basin (divided into seven sub-basins) for the current period (1961-2005) and estimated their expected evolution under future climate projections for the periods 2011-2040, 2041-2070, and 2071-2099. Future climate projections were analysed from results of the Eta Regional Climate Model (grid resolution of approximately 10 km) forced by the global climate model HadGEM2-ES over the La Plata basin, and considering a RCP4.5 emission scenario. Within each sub-basin, we particularly focused our drought analyses on croplands and grasslands, due to their economic relevance. The three-month Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI3) was used for drought identification and characterization. Droughts were evaluated in terms of time (percentage of time from the total length of each climate scenario), space (percentage of total area), and severity (SPEI3 values) of cells characterized by cropland and grassland for each sub-basin and climate scenario. Drought-severity-area-frequency curves were developed to quantitatively relate the frequency distribution of drought occurrence to drought severity and area. For the period 2011-2040, droughts dominate the northern sub-basins, whereas alternating wet and short dry periods dominate the southern sub-basins. Wet climate spread from south to north within the La Plata Basin as more distant future scenarios were analysed, due to both a greater number of wet periods and fewer droughts. The area of each sub-basin affected by drought in all climate scenarios was highly varied temporally and spatially. The likelihood of the occurrence of droughts differed significantly between the studied cover types in the Lower Paraguay sub-basin, being higher for cropland than for grassland. Mainly in the Upper Paraguay and in the Upper Parana basins the climate projections for all scenarios showed an increase of moderate and severe droughts over large regions dedicated to crops and grasses. On the other hand, for the near future, the Lower Uruguay and the River Plata basins showed a decrease of drought severity compared to the current period. Projections suggest an increase in competition among uses in these regions and the need for a potential relocation of certain crops from the northern regions towards cooler regions located in the centre and south. Further research should consider other climate projections and perform high spatial resolution studies in localized areas.

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