Great Basin Naturalist


A 36.9 × 106 m3 reservoir constructed on Huntington River, Emery County, Utah, resulted in changes in physical habitat, water quality, temperature, and flow regime. The greatest changes in physical habitat resulted from: (1) sediment additions from dam and road construction plus erosion of reservoir basin during filling; and (2) changing stream flow from a spring high runoff regime to a moderated flow regime. Elimination of spring nutrient concentration peaks and overall reduction of total dissolved nutrient availability in the river plus moderate reductions in pH were the most apparent water quality changes below the reservoir. Water temperature changes were an increased diurnal and seasonal constancy, summer depression, and winter elevation, generally limited to a 10–12 km reach below the dam.

Physical and chemical changes altered macroinvertebrate community structure, with changes greatest near the dam and progressively less as distance downstream increased. Below the dam: (1) more environmentally tolerant taxa increased their dominance; (2) relative numbers of smaller sized individuals increased in relation to larger individuals; and (3) filter feeding, collector/gatherers, and scrapers gained an advantage over shredders. Insect taxa such as Rhithrogena robusta, Pteronarcella badia, and Ephemerella doddsi were eliminated from stream reaches near the dam, and other taxa such as Arctopsyche grandis, Chironomidae, and Simuliidae increased in numbers. Late spring to early summer egg hatch proved to be a disadvantage to Brachycentrus occidentalis, and B. americanus, with a fall hatch, was less impacted by altered river flow patterns. Macroinvertebrate taxa with small instar larvae present from late summer to early fall were negatively impacted by the unnaturally high July and August flows. The reservoir became a physical barrier to downstream larval drift and upcanyon and downcanyon immigration of adults, resulting in reduced numbers of several species above and below the reservoir.