Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: North Carolina
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

North Carolina Project

Association of Flow Regime with Fish and Invertebrate Assemblages in Caribbean Streams and Rivers

September 2019 - September 2020


Participating Agencies

  • USDA Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry

The flow regime (i.e., the rate and timing of water flow) is a central physical factor regulating the dynamics of biotic communities in stream and river ecosystems. The determination of optimal flow regimes that meet societal demands for water resources while sustaining and enhancing aquatic life is especially applicable to tropical island aquatic ecosystems, and the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico is an ideal landscape upon which to empirically research such dynamics. Recent destructive tropical storms in the Caribbean further compel and facilitate study of extreme disturbance, both as flooding and drought, and the need to plan adaptation strategies is critical. In response to critical information and research needs, we propose research to address specific objectives, with an ultimate goal of understanding how stream flow dynamics affect aquatic communities, as an initial step toward ultimately developing environmental flow prescriptions to sustain and enhance aquatic life in Caribbean streams and rivers. The proposed research is multidisciplinary, including aspects of ecology, fishery science, hydrology, and climate science, and spans multiple spatial, temporal, and organizational scales. The objectives will be addressed via empirical data analyses of physical and biotic parameters on the island of Puerto Rico, but the findings may be applicable and informative to other tropical Caribbean islands and nations.