OSU engages in collaborative international research project to help advance the sustainable use of water resources in Europe

Oregon State University fisheries biologist Guillermo Giannico (l) and student Randy Colvin examine the healthy riparian ecology along fields owned by Willamette Valley grower Don Wirth.

Dr. Guillermo R. Giannico, in the Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences Department of Fisheries and Wildlife was tapped as one of four global expert advisors, and the only one from a U.S. University, to oversee an important international research project that found Europe’s rivers have at least 1.2 million instream barriers. Recently published in Nature, the study showed that “Europe has probably some of the most fragmented rivers in the world. Researchers detected thousands of large dams, but also a myriad of low-head structures such as weirs, culverts, fords, sluices and ramps which had been overlooked and are the main culprits of fragmentation.”

According to Dr. Giannico, this study “represents an extremely useful tool for identifying hundreds of thousands of obsolete non-functioning barriers throughout Europe and provides the push needed to make their removal possible.”

In a press release issued by AMBER, the research used barrier modeling and extensive field ground-truthing and estimated that there are at least 0.74 barriers per km of stream, producing the first comprehensive pan-European barrier inventory, the AMBER  Barrier Atlas.

The research stemmed from AMBER, a large collaborative Horizon 2020 project coordinated by Swansea University. AMBER further detailed in its press release that it seeks to apply adaptive management to the operation of dams and other barriers to achieve a more sustainable use of water resources and a more efficient restoration of stream connectivity. The project has developed tools and simulations to help water companies and river managers maximize the benefits of barriers and minimize ecological impacts.

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