, Volume 712, Issue 1, pp 129–143 | Cite as

Effects of hydromorphological impacts on river ecosystem functioning: a review and suggestions for assessing ecological impacts



Because of the serious effects of pollution on water supply much closer attention has been paid to water quality than to other aspects of river integrity. However, channel form and water flow are relevant components of river health, and recent evidences show that their impairment threatens the services derived from them. In this article, we review the literature on the effects of common hydromorphological impacts (channel modification and flow modification) on the functioning of river ecosystems. There are evidences that even light hydromorphological impacts can have deep effects on ecosystem functioning, and that different functional variables differ in their responses. Three criteria (relevance, scale and sensitivity) in the selection of functional variables are suggested as a guide for the river scientists and managers to assess the ecological impacts of hydromorphological modifications.


Hydromorphology River Impact Ecosystem functioning Biodiversity Management 



This paper has benefited from the support of the Spanish Ministry of Research and Innovation through projects METATOOL (BOS2003–04466), COMPLEXTREAM (CGL2007-65176/HID), and SCARCE (CONSOLIDER-INGENIO CSD2009-00065).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Science and TechnologyThe University of the Basque CountryBilbaoSpain
  2. 2.Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA)GironaSpain
  3. 3.Institute of Aquatic Ecology, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of GironaGironaSpain

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