Widespread forest vertebrate extinctions induced by a mega hydroelectric dam in lowland Amazonia

Mega hydropower projects in tropical forests pose a major emergent threat to terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity worldwide. Despite the unprecedented number of existing, under-construction and planned hydroelectric dams in lowland tropical forests, long-term effects on biodiversity have yet to be evaluated. We examine how medium and large-bodied assemblages of terrestrial and arboreal vertebrates (including 35 mammal, bird and tortoise species) responded to the drastic 26-year post-isolation history of archipelagic alteration in landscape structure and habitat quality in a major hydroelectric reservoir of Central Amazonia. The Balbina Hydroelectric Dam inundated 3,129 km2 of primary forests, simultaneously isolating 3,546 land-bridge islands.

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