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Sci Total Environ. 2015 Nov 15;534:52-64. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.04.034. Epub 2015 Apr 25.

Human effects on ecological connectivity in aquatic ecosystems: Integrating scientific approaches to support management and mitigation.

Author information

Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Northern Territory 0909, Australia. Electronic address:
Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA.
Balaton Limnological Institute, Centre for Ecological Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Tihany, Klebelsberg, K.u. 3., H-8237, Hungary.
Department of Integrative Biology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA; Departamento de Recursos Hídricos y Ciencias Ambientales, Universidad de Cuenca, Cuenca, Ecuador.
Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories, School of Biological Sciences and The Environment Institute, DX 650 418, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.
Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD 4111, Australia.
Instituto de Ciencias Naturales Alexander Von Humboldt, Universidad de Antofagasta, Avenida Angamos, 601 Antofagasta, Chile.
Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Lowestoft Laboratory, Lowestoft NR33 0HT, UK; School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK.
Biology Department, University of New Brunswick (Saint John), Canada.
Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade, Bldg. 1540, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.
School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia.


Understanding the drivers and implications of anthropogenic disturbance of ecological connectivity is a key concern for the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Here, we review human activities that affect the movements and dispersal of aquatic organisms, including damming of rivers, river regulation, habitat loss and alteration, human-assisted dispersal of organisms and climate change. Using a series of case studies, we show that the insight needed to understand the nature and implications of connectivity, and to underpin conservation and management, is best achieved via data synthesis from multiple analytical approaches. We identify four key knowledge requirements for progressing our understanding of the effects of anthropogenic impacts on ecological connectivity: autecology; population structure; movement characteristics; and environmental tolerance/phenotypic plasticity. Structuring empirical research around these four broad data requirements, and using this information to parameterise appropriate models and develop management approaches, will allow for mitigation of the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on ecological connectivity in aquatic ecosystems.


Climate change; Dispersal; Fragmentation; Meta-population; Migration; Source-sink

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