Environmental Assessment of Brazilian Cerrado Hydropower Watersheds: Local Investments for Global Biodiversity Conservation

Wednesday, August 20, 2014: 10:50 AM
202 (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Marcos Callisto , Biologia Geral, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
João Lopes , Programa Peixe Vivo, CEMIG Geração e Transmissão, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Carlos Alves , NUVELHAS, Projeto Manuelzão, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Paulo Pompeu , PPG-Ecologia Aplicada, Universidade Federal de Lavras, Lavras, Brazil
Gilmar Santos , PPG-Zoologia, Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Robert Hughes , Amnis Opes Institute and Department of Fisheries & Wildlife
Philip Kaufmann , Western Ecology Division, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Corvallis, OR
Brazilian Cerrado biome was studied to assess the environmental condition of hydropower watersheds along a gradient of human disturbance. Land use, natural cover, riparian vegetation, physical habitat, fish and benthos richness were evaluated in four basins considering both headwater streams (N=160) and the littoral region of reservoirs (N=160), where over 140 fish species and 100 benthic taxa were captured and studied as bioindicators of environmental condition. North American protocols (USEPA) were adapted to South American Cerrado environmental conditions and validated to assess the ecological changes. We developed an Integrated Disturbance Index to assess the influence of local-and catchment-scale disturbances in EPT richness in streams; and macro-and meso-scales in reservoirs. Results identified spatial distribution of alien species, reminiscent Cerrado fragments, and physical habitat metrics as indicators of high or low environmental condition. We conclude that 1) each basin has different land uses, percentage natural Cerrado cover, physical habitat conditions; 2) the higher the environmental integrity, the higher the fish and macroinvertebrate richness, although some streams with intermediate riparian disturbance had an increased number of fish species; 3) local management strategies are needed to improve environmental conditions; 4) quantitative north temperate monitoring protocols can be implemented in tropical aquatic ecosystems.