Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hessd-12-10701-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
19 Oct 2015
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS). The manuscript was not accepted for further review after discussion.
The inbuilt long-term unfeasibility of environmental flows when disregarding riparian vegetation requirements
R. Rivaes1, I. Boavida2, J. M. Santos1, A. N. Pinheiro2, and M. T. Ferreira1 1Forest Research Center, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal
2CERIS, Civil Engineering Research Innovation and Sustainability Centre, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Av. Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal
Abstract. Environmental flows remain biased towards the traditional fish biological group and ignore the inter-annual flow variability that rules longer species life cycles, thus disregarding the long-term perspective of the riverine ecosystem. Incorporating riparian vegetation requirements into environmental flows could bring an important contribute to fill in this gap. The long-term after-effects of this shortcoming on the biological communities downstream of dams were never estimated before. We address this concern by evaluating the effects of environmental flow regimes disregarding riparian vegetation in the long-term perspective of the fluvial ecosystem. To achieve that purpose, the riparian vegetation evolution was modeled considering its structural response to a decade of different environmental flows, and the fish habitat availability was assessed for each of the resulting riparian habitat scenarios. We demonstrate that fish habitat availability changes accordingly to the long-term structural adjustments that riparian habitat endure following river regulation. Environmental flow regimes considering only aquatic biota become obsolete in few years due to the change of the habitat premises in which they were based on and, therefore, are unsustainable in the long run. Therefore, considering riparian vegetation requirements on environmental flows is mandatory to assure the effectiveness of those in the long-term perspective of the fluvial ecosystem.

Citation: Rivaes, R., Boavida, I., Santos, J. M., Pinheiro, A. N., and Ferreira, M. T.: The inbuilt long-term unfeasibility of environmental flows when disregarding riparian vegetation requirements, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 12, 10701-10737, doi:10.5194/hessd-12-10701-2015, 2015.
R. Rivaes et al.
Interactive discussionStatus: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version      Supplement - Supplement
 
RC C5108: 'Review of M. E. McClain', Michael McClain, 25 Nov 2015 Printer-friendly Version 
AC C5934: 'Response to Review of M. E. McClain', Rui Rivaes, 04 Jan 2016 Printer-friendly Version 
 
RC C6657: 'Review paper Rivaes et al.', Anonymous Referee #2, 09 Feb 2016 Printer-friendly Version 
 
RC C6700: 'Comments to the authors', Anonymous Referee #3, 12 Feb 2016 Printer-friendly Version 
R. Rivaes et al.
R. Rivaes et al.

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Short summary
We evaluated the effects of environmental flow regimes disregarding riparian vegetation in the long-term perspective of the fluvial ecosystem. Environmental flow regimes influence riparian vegetation. Fish habitat availability changes accordingly to the long-term structural adjustments of riparian habitat. Incorporating riparian requirements on environmental flows is mandatory to assure the effectiveness of environmental flow regimes in the long-term perspective of the fluvial ecosystem.
We evaluated the effects of environmental flow regimes disregarding riparian vegetation in the...
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