Fish communities’ response to implementation of restoring measures in a highly artificialized estuary
Over the years, the Mondego estuary has undergone various anthropogenic impacts. One of the most serious was the closing of the communication between the two arms of the system (north and south), in the 1990s, which promoted eutrophication and a consequent water quality decline in the south arm. Several mitigation measures were subsequently implemented, in particular the re-establishing of the communication between the two arms in 2006, increasing water flow and reducing water residence time in the south arm. The present study aimed to evaluate the impact of management measures on the ecological and conservation condition of the Mondego estuary, through a longitudinal assessment of the structure and composition of the fish communities over a decade. The Mondego fish community showed important modifications over the years, in terms of structure, ecological quality and conservation value. The fish community status improved following the reconnection of both arms. In the south arm those changes appear to be more evident than in the other estuarine areas, where an inverse pattern was observed in the last few years. A redistribution of the fish species within the system may have been responsible for those unexpected alterations in the north arm and upstream area.