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  • Assessment of hydrologic alterations caused by the Three Gorges Dam in the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River, China.

    Jiang LiuZhi   Ban Xuan   Wang XueLei   Cai XiaoBin  

    Hydrologic regime plays a major role in structuring biotic diversity within river ecosystems by controlling key habitat conditions within the river channel and floodplain. Daily flow records from seven hydrological stations and the range of variability approach were utilized to investigate the variability and spatial pattern of the hydrologic alterations induced by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, China. Results show that the impoundment of the TGD disturbed the hydrologic regime downstream and directly affected the streamflow variations. The rate of changes and the annual extreme conditions were more affected by the TGD, particularly the low-flow relevant parameters. The alterations in the hydrologic regime were mainly caused by the TGD storing water during early autumn and releasing water during winter and spring. The effects on spatial patterns decreased as the distance from the dam increased, which was mainly attributed to the inflows from large tributaries along the Yangtze River as well as the interaction with the two largest natural lakes ( i.e., Dongting Lake and Poyang Lake). These hydrologic alterations not only break the natural balance of eco-flow regimes but also result in undesirable ecological effects, particularly in terms of habitat availability for the fish community.
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