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Hydroelectric Dam Demolition Helps American Dippers


Cara J

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Breaking the barriers for salmon may lead quickly to a healthier bird population, at least as far as dam removal is concerned. Recent research examined the effect that removing a dam had on the movement of salmon in the Elwha River in northeast Washington state, as well as how the change affected the ecosystem of a bird species: the American dipper (Cinclus mexicanus). “It makes a big difference to the dippers whether they have access to salmon,” said Christopher Tonra, an assistant professor of avian wildlife ecology at Ohio State University and the lead author of the recent study published in Ecography. Researcher Christopher Tonra bands an American dipper in the field. ©Ohio State University American dippers live along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Central America. Tonra said that before the dam was removed, populations upstream from the hydroelectric outlet only produced one brood per year on average, had lower annual survival rates and were more likely to migrate. “If there’s no salmon access for the dippers, they almost behave like a different population,” he said. “The birds with salmon on their territory will stick around all year.” The state removed the Elwha Dam over the winter of 2011-2012, [...]

 

Read more: http://wildlife.org/hydroelectric-dam-demolition-helps-american-dippers/

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