Stream fragmentation in Great Britain
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April 17, 2019



Stream fragmentation in Great Britain

Much like everywhere else the abundance and distribution of artificial barriers in Britain, excluding high-head dams, is poorly documented. Researchers at Swansea University have tried to change that and have come up with a comprehensive database of the distribution different types of artificial barriers in Great Britain, and, for the first time, an estimate of river fragmentation. Barrier data were compiled from existing databases and were ground-truthed by field surveys in England, Scotland and Wales to assess how complete existing databases were across Great Britain. Field surveys showed that existing databases underestimate true barrier occurrence, particularly low-head structures, by nearly a factor of 3. The results of this study indicate that most catchments in Great Britain are heavily fragmented, and none or very few are free of artificial barriers. These findings provide a much needed critical starting point for assessing the impacts of stream fragmentation and highlight the need for citizen science approaches such as AMBER’s Barrier Tracker.

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Author: Joshua Jones