Trading-off fish biodiversity, food security, and hydropower in the Mekong River Basin

Guy Ziv, Eric Baran, So Nam, Ignacio Rodríguez-Iturbe, Simon Asher Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

689 Scopus citations


The Mekong River Basin, site of the biggest inland fishery in the world, is undergoing massive hydropower development. Planned dams will block critical fish migration routes between the river's downstream floodplains and upstream tributaries. Here we estimate fish biomass and biodiversity losses in numerous damming scenarios using a simple ecological model of fish migration. Our framework allows detailing trade-offs between dam locations, power production, and impacts on fish resources. We find that the completion of 78 dams on tributaries, which have not previously been subject to strategic analysis, would have catastrophic impacts on fish productivity and biodiversity. Our results argue for reassessment of several dams planned, and call for a new regional agreement on tributary development of the Mekong River Basin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5609-5614
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 10 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Fish species richness
  • Hydropower planning
  • Sustainable development


Dive into the research topics of 'Trading-off fish biodiversity, food security, and hydropower in the Mekong River Basin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this