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Habitat loss due to dam & hydropower development may affect fishes in Gabon

The planned construction of 38 hydropower dams will impact the fish species inhabiting freshwater ecosystems in the megadiverse African country of Gabon. Many of Gabon's most culturally and economically important fish species are marine‐associated, moving between fresh and salt or brackish waters. However, we know little about their life histories or movement patterns, which makes it difficult to predict the impacts of dam development on biodiversity and fisheries in Gabon. Here, we apply MaxEnt distribution modeling to predict the distribution of marine‐associated fishes in Gabon's freshwaters. The model predicts a high likelihood of these fishes occurring in every coastal watershed, throughout the undammed Nyanga drainage, and extending ~400 km into the Ogooué River and its tributaries Ngounie and Abanga.

If all 38 dams are constructed, marine‐associated fishes will lose approximately 17% of riverine habitats (7400 km) including 7% of the best quality habitat (460 km). Proposed dams pose a substantial threat to Gabon's most culturally and economically important fishes.


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