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More research uncovers how dam removal can return a river to a more natural state.


Biologist at the University of Navarra (Spain), Amaia Angulo Rodeles, concluded in her doctoral thesis that the demolition of river barriers can help conserve Atlantic salmon populations. Her research title, River connectivity and its implications for freshwater fish conservation: methods of study in the Iberian Peninsula, was based on the barriers present within the Bidasoa River (in the north of Spain). In her published work, she explains ways to measure how specific dams can impact a river system and how different species respond.

There are many out-of-use barriers fragmenting rivers across Europe. They are blocking movement of sediments and nutrients, negatively impacting water quality, causing erosion and becoming safety hazards, among other things. Angulo states, “Dams are degrading river ecosystems in ways we do not completely understand yet. We are losing emblematic fish species such as Atlantic salmon, Atlantic sturgeon, and European eel.”

Scientific studies, such as this one, are key factors in revealing the importance and benefits of dam removals and helping others to understand. Together, scientists, managers, politicians and society can restore river connectivity; by sharing and connecting, we can turn the tide.

Angulo was also a participant in the 2016 Dam Removal Europe Seminar in Leon, France.  There, she had the opportunity to learn about management of dam removal and its social and ecological effects and meet different people dedicated to dam removal around Europe. She says, “We have the power to reverse river degradation by removing obsolete barriers.”

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