Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Integrative Life Sciences

First Advisor

Leonard A. Smock

Second Advisor

Paul A. Bukaveckas


The term hydropeaking refers to anthropogenically induced, short-duration, high-magnitude discharge pulses that are generated in lotic systems for electricity production. The practice of hydropeaking produces the largest source of renewable energy worldwide, and its use is projected to increase through the year 2040. The primary objective of this work was to evaluate the effects of hydropeaking on benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages, which are important components of lotic ecosystems. Results of this work show that, across a wide range of impacted systems worldwide, the consistently observed patterns of elevated benthic macroinvertebrate drift in response to hydropeaking pulses are primarily related to the rate at which discharge is increased (i.e., ramping rate) and secondarily to the time between pulses. In addition, it was shown that taxa inhabiting depositional habitat patches (i.e. fine substrates and slow water velocities) were most susceptible to peaking-induced drift, and that these taxa were also those most prevalent in hydropeaking-impacted systems. Collectively, these results suggest that increased pulse ramping rate and the resulting elevated macroinvertebrate drift may be positive selective forces, which benefit populations adapted for life in hydropeaking-impacted lotic ecosystems. These results provide a greater understanding of the factors that are most important for governing the effects of hydropeaking on benthic assemblages.


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