Over the last several years, a team of researchers led by Dr. John Kominoski, aquatic ecologist within the FIU Southeast Environmental Research Center and Department of Biological Sciences, have been studying how freshwater resources and ecosystems are impacted by changes in the climate, as well as by human water management policies.
In their latest publication, Kominoski and his team have investigated how more than 50 years of dams and climate change impacts the hydrology of rivers and species in rivers. The team examined native freshwater fish species in three different basins within the Southeastern and Southwestern regions of the United States.
The study found that dams are indeed a driver of native fish species losses. According to the study, dams interact with species traits and influence their reproduction rates, egg sizes, and even age of maturity. Dams increase risk of fish extinction in the Southeast. Dams and declines and changes in the seasonality of streamflow increase risk of fish extinction in the Southwest. Increased dam building and retrofitting will continue contributing to fish extinction rates unless local or national water management strategies that balance flow regulation with ecologically conscious outcomes are implemented.
Earlier this year, the team published another paper in the journal Earth’s Future about the water efficiency of different states within the US, which found that Florida is leading the US southern states in water efficiency.
The overall project works on identifying where there needs to be improved water-use efficiency and water management decision-making in various geographic settings under a changing climate. This collaborative, interdisciplinary project included hydrologists, climatologists, social scientists, and ecologists aimed at understanding the impacts of human water management decisions and climate on water availability for humans and ecosystems. This research has been ongoing since 2012.