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A comprehensive assessment of stream fragmentation in Great Britain

A comprehensive assessment of stream fragmentation in Great Britain
A comprehensive assessment of stream fragmentation in Great Britain

Artificial barriers are one of the main threats to river ecosystems, resulting in habitat fragmentation and loss of connectivity. Yet, the abundance and distribution of most artificial barriers, excluding high-head dams, is poorly documented. We provide a comprehensive assessment of the distribution and typology of artificial barriers in Great Britain, and estimate for the first time the extent of river fragmentation. To this end, barrier data were compiled from existing databases and were ground-truthed by field surveys in England, Scotland and Wales to derive a correction factor for barrier density across Great Britain. Field surveys indicate that existing barrier databases underestimate barrier density by 68%, particularly in the case of low-head structures (<1 m) which are often missing from current records. Field-corrected barrier density estimates ranged from 0.48 barriers/km in Scotland to 0.63 barriers/km in Wales, and 0.75 barriers/km in England. Corresponding estimates of stream fragmentation by weirs and dams only, measured as mean barrier-free length, were 12.30 km in Scotland, 6.68 km in Wales and 5.29 km in England, suggesting the extent of river modification differs between regions. Our study indicates that 97% of the river network in Great Britain is fragmented and <1% of the catchments are free of artificial barriers.

Connectivity, Dams, Instream infrastructure, Obstacle inventory, Rivers, Stream barriers
0048-9697
756-762
Jones, Joshua
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Börger, Luca
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Tummers, Jeroen
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Jones, Peter
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Lucas, Martyn
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Kerr, Jim
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Kemp, Paul
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Bizzi, Simone
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Consuegra, Sofia
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Marcello, Lucio
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Vowles, Andrew
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Belletti, Barbara
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Verspoor, Eric
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Van de Bund, Wouter
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Gough, Peter
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Garcia de Leaniz, Carlos
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Jones, Joshua
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Börger, Luca
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Tummers, Jeroen
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Jones, Peter
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Lucas, Martyn
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Kerr, Jim
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Kemp, Paul
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Bizzi, Simone
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Consuegra, Sofia
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Marcello, Lucio
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Vowles, Andrew
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Belletti, Barbara
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Verspoor, Eric
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Van de Bund, Wouter
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Gough, Peter
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Garcia de Leaniz, Carlos
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Jones, Joshua, Börger, Luca, Tummers, Jeroen, Jones, Peter, Lucas, Martyn, Kerr, Jim, Kemp, Paul, Bizzi, Simone, Consuegra, Sofia, Marcello, Lucio, Vowles, Andrew, Belletti, Barbara, Verspoor, Eric, Van de Bund, Wouter, Gough, Peter and Garcia de Leaniz, Carlos (2019) A comprehensive assessment of stream fragmentation in Great Britain. Science of the Total Environment, 673, 756-762. (doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.125).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Artificial barriers are one of the main threats to river ecosystems, resulting in habitat fragmentation and loss of connectivity. Yet, the abundance and distribution of most artificial barriers, excluding high-head dams, is poorly documented. We provide a comprehensive assessment of the distribution and typology of artificial barriers in Great Britain, and estimate for the first time the extent of river fragmentation. To this end, barrier data were compiled from existing databases and were ground-truthed by field surveys in England, Scotland and Wales to derive a correction factor for barrier density across Great Britain. Field surveys indicate that existing barrier databases underestimate barrier density by 68%, particularly in the case of low-head structures (<1 m) which are often missing from current records. Field-corrected barrier density estimates ranged from 0.48 barriers/km in Scotland to 0.63 barriers/km in Wales, and 0.75 barriers/km in England. Corresponding estimates of stream fragmentation by weirs and dams only, measured as mean barrier-free length, were 12.30 km in Scotland, 6.68 km in Wales and 5.29 km in England, suggesting the extent of river modification differs between regions. Our study indicates that 97% of the river network in Great Britain is fragmented and <1% of the catchments are free of artificial barriers.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 9 April 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 10 April 2019
Published date: 10 July 2019
Keywords: Connectivity, Dams, Instream infrastructure, Obstacle inventory, Rivers, Stream barriers

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 432818
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/432818
ISSN: 0048-9697
PURE UUID: 7a49370e-bf2a-484f-8a30-d9a0b3f4b898
ORCID for Jim Kerr: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2990-7293
ORCID for Paul Kemp: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4470-0589

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 26 Jul 2019 16:30
Last modified: 10 Dec 2019 01:44

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Contributors

Author: Joshua Jones
Author: Luca Börger
Author: Jeroen Tummers
Author: Peter Jones
Author: Martyn Lucas
Author: Jim Kerr ORCID iD
Author: Paul Kemp ORCID iD
Author: Simone Bizzi
Author: Sofia Consuegra
Author: Lucio Marcello
Author: Andrew Vowles
Author: Barbara Belletti
Author: Eric Verspoor
Author: Wouter Van de Bund
Author: Peter Gough
Author: Carlos Garcia de Leaniz

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