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Sci Adv. 2018 Jan 31;4(1):eaao1642. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aao1642. eCollection 2018 Jan.

Fragmentation of Andes-to-Amazon connectivity by hydropower dams.

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Department of Earth and Environment and Institute for Water and Environment, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA.
IPÊ-Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas, Nazaré Paulista, São Paulo 12960, Brazil.
SavingSpecies Inc., Holly Springs, NC 27540, USA.
Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.
Unidad de Ecología y Sistemática (UNESIS), Laboratorio de Ictiología, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia.
FAUNAGUA, Cochabamba, Bolivia.
ECOSINTEGRALES SRL, Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Instituto BIOSFERA, Laboratorio de Ecología Acuática, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito, Ecuador.
IMAR/MARE, Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, 3001-456 Coimbra, Portugal.
Carrera de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Central del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador.
Departamento de Ictiología, Museo de Historia Natural-Universidad Nacional Mayor San Marcos, Lima, Peru.
Wildlife Conservation Society, Av. Roosevelt 6360, Miraflores, Lima, Peru.
Department of Biology, Francis Marion University, Florence, SC 29506, USA.
Unidad de Limnología y Recursos Acuáticos, Universidad Mayor de San Simón, Cochabamba, Bolivia.
UMR5174 EDB (Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique), CNRS, IRD, UPS, ENSFEA, Université Paul Sabatier, F-31062 Toulouse, France.


Andes-to-Amazon river connectivity controls numerous natural and human systems in the greater Amazon. However, it is being rapidly altered by a wave of new hydropower development, the impacts of which have been previously underestimated. We document 142 dams existing or under construction and 160 proposed dams for rivers draining the Andean headwaters of the Amazon. Existing dams have fragmented the tributary networks of six of eight major Andean Amazon river basins. Proposed dams could result in significant losses in river connectivity in river mainstems of five of eight major systems-the Napo, Marañón, Ucayali, Beni, and Mamoré. With a newly reported 671 freshwater fish species inhabiting the Andean headwaters of the Amazon (>500 m), dams threaten previously unrecognized biodiversity, particularly among endemic and migratory species. Because Andean rivers contribute most of the sediment in the mainstem Amazon, losses in river connectivity translate to drastic alteration of river channel and floodplain geomorphology and associated ecosystem services.

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