Longitudinal gradient in limnological variables in the Upper Paraná River: a brief description and the importance of undammed tributaries

<div><p> Abstract Aim: Describe the limnological pattern in a longitudinal gradient in the Paraná River, a highly dammed river, in a stretch localized between two dams, but rich in undammed tributaries. Methods Twelve transects in the longitudinal gradient of the Paraná River were sampled, with the first transect being placed right after Porto Primavera dam, and the last one in the lotic region of the Itaipu dam. In each of these transects, water transparency, electrical conductivity, pH, total nitrogen and total phosphorous were analyzed. Results In those regions nearer Porto Primavera dam it was observed high values of water transparency and low values of nitrogen and phosphorous. The values of water transparency decreased and the values of nitrogen and phosphorous increased as the distance from Porto Primavera dam increased. Because the new tributaries connect to the Paraná River, with the sites farer from Porto Primavera dam presenting values similar to those prior its construction. Conclusions Increase in the nutrients concentration and changes in ecological integrity are probably due to the presence of the undammed tributaries. They are originate in different river basins and therefore contribute to the Paraná River in distinct manners. Results presented here are an indicative of the fundamental importance of undammed tributaries in mitigating damming negative impacts in extremely dammed rivers and highlight the importance of keeping such tributaries free of dams.</p></div>