DAMFUN: Impact of hydropower dams

Last changed: 03 June 2024
Water flows in a paved stream channel after damming. Photo.

The DAMFUN research project is mapping the impact of hydropower dams on the ecosystem. It focuses on the many ecological functions that exist and the links between watercourses and their riparian zones.

DAMFUN overall goal is to supplement existing knowledge gaps of longitudinal dam impacts within a river, with a broader meta-ecosystem approach that also includes the lateral impacts and ecological linkages between aquatic and riparian habitats.

This new knowledge will provide science-based decision support for sound management decisions and contribute to guaranteeing the long-term ecological sustainability and resilience of river networks.


DAMFUN is organised into four interlinked work packages (WP) that each address one of the project’s main hypotheses to quantify dam effects:

  • Workpackage 1 uses existing data and new field measures to quantify dam impacts on river and riparian habitats and biology.
  • Workpackage 2 focuses on the resource transfers of high-quality subsidies from rivers to terrestrial consumers (emerged aquatic insects to spiders) and from terrestrial to aquatic consumers (terrestrial invertebrates to brown trout) using novel field studies.
  • Workpackage 3 quantifies terrestrial (spider) and aquatic (brown trout) consumer diets using novel field experiments and molecular-based food web methods.
  • Workpackage 4 aims at the development of a decision-support tool for assessing effects on river networks and catchments that goes beyond simple measures of biodiversity by including a more mechanistic understanding of how river-riparian meta-ecosystems function.