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Concept: Yangtze River


The increasing impact of both climatic change and human activities on global river systems necessitates an increasing need to identify and quantify the various drivers and their impacts on fluvial water and sediment discharge. Here we show that mean Yangtze River water discharge of the first decade after the closing of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) (2003-2012) was 67 km(3)/yr (7%) lower than that of the previous 50 years (1950-2002), and 126 km(3)/yr less compared to the relatively wet period of pre-TGD decade (1993-2002). Most (60-70%) of the decline can be attributed to decreased precipitation, the remainder resulting from construction of reservoirs, improved water-soil conservation and increased water consumption. Mean sediment flux decreased by 71% between 1950-1968 and the post-TGD decade, about half of which occurred prior to the pre-TGD decade. Approximately 30% of the total decline and 65% of the decline since 2003 can be attributed to the TGD, 5% and 14% of these declines to precipitation change, and the remaining to other dams and soil conservation within the drainage basin. These findings highlight the degree to which changes in riverine water and sediment discharge can be related with multiple environmental and anthropogenic factors.

Concepts: Drainage basin, Yangtze River, Chongqing, Dam, Three Gorges Dam, Hubei, Three Gorges, Yichang


We investigated the occurrence and distribution patterns of 2,3,7,8-substituted polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) in six sediment samples from the Xiangjiang River, Hunan Province, People’s Republic of China. Total concentrations of PCDD/Fs ranged from 876 to 497,759 (mean 160,766) ng/kg dw, the highest of which exceeded that have ever been reported for sediment samples. World Health Organization total toxicity equivalent (WHO-TEQ) concentrations in three out of six samples were significantly higher than the guidance level (21.5 ng WHO-TEQ/kg dw) suggested by Canadian Sediment Quality Guideline. A predominance of octachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (OCDD) was observed with an average contribution of 90.8% to the total PCDD/F concentrations, while 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-heptachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (HpCDD) was the major contributor to the PCDD/F WHO-TEQ concentrations in most of the sites. Such high levels of OCDD and HpCDD may be attributed to the presence of PCP/PCP-Na pollution, although MB-WW, agricultural straw open burning, and boilers-hazardous wastes were also the potential sources of PCDD/Fs. This is the first report for the concentrations and congener profiles of PCDD/Fs in sediment samples from the Xiangtan, Zhuzhou, and Changsha sections of the Xiangjiang River, providing scientific evidence for establishing priorities to reduce ecological risks posed by PCDD/Fs in the rapidly developing areas of Hunan Province and elsewhere.

Concepts: People's Republic of China, Yangtze River, Mao Zedong, Hunan, Changsha, Hengyang, Xiang River, Zhuzhou


The development of fluvial systems in East Asia is closely linked to the evolving topography following India-Eurasia collision. Despite this, the age of the Yangtze River system has been strongly debated, with estimates ranging from 40 to 45 Ma, to a more recent initiation around 2 Ma. Here, we present (40)Ar/(39)Ar ages from basalts interbedded with fluvial sediments from the lower reaches of the Yangtze together with detrital zircon U-Pb ages from sand grains within these sediments. We show that a river containing sediments indistinguishable from the modern river was established before ∼23 Ma. We argue that the connection through the Three Gorges must postdate 36.5 Ma because of evaporite and lacustrine sedimentation in the Jianghan Basin before that time. We propose that the present Yangtze River system formed in response to regional extension throughout eastern China, synchronous with the start of strike-slip tectonism and surface uplift in eastern Tibet and fed by strengthened rains caused by the newly intensified summer monsoon.

Concepts: Time, China, Yangtze River, Three Gorges Dam, Hubei, Three Gorges, Yichang, Tibet


Artemisia gilvescens, a traditional Chinese medicinal plant, is chiefly distributed in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, China. Chemical composition of hydrodistilled essential oil from A. gilvescens was investigated by gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy (GC-MS), and larvicidal activity of the oil and its six main compounds against Anopheles anthropophagus was carried out by WHO method. In total, 56 compounds corresponding to 98.20 % of the total oil were identified and the major compounds identified were camphor (13.49 %), eucalyptol (12.13 %), terpine-4-ol (9.65 %), germacrene D (8.62 %), caryophyllene oxide (4.65 %), and caryophyllene (4.29 %). Essential oil induced 8, 46, 80, 85, 94, and 100 % larval mortality at the concentrations of 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, and 150 mg/l, and the LC(50) and LC(90) values were 49.95 and 97.36 mg/l, respectively. Among the six compounds, the most potent larvicidal compound was caryophyllene oxide and germacrene D, with LC(50) values of 49.46 and 49.81 mg/l and LC(90) values of 115.38 and 106.19 mg/l, respectively. Terpine-4-ol had LC(50) and LC(90) values of 76.70 and 139.42 mg/l followed by camphor which showed LC(50) and LC(90) values of 129.17 and 192.42 mg/l, respectively. The least potent among the six compounds were eucalyptol and caryophyllene, with and LC(50) value exceeding 200 mg/l. In general, it also shows a dose-dependent effect on mortality, with increasing concentrations of essential oil and compounds increasing mortality of the larvae. The essential oil of A. gilvescens and its several major compounds may have potential for use in control of A. anthropophagus.

Concepts: China, Chromatography, Yangtze River, Chemical compound, The Essential, Essential oil, Camphor, Lavender


Increasing eutrophication and algal bloom events in the Yangtze River Three Gorges Reservoir, China, are widely discussed with regard to changed hydrodynamics and nutrient transport and distribution processes. Insights into water exchange and interaction processes between water masses related to large-scale water level fluctuations in the reservoir are crucial to understand water quality and eutrophication dynamics. Therefore, confluence zones of tributaries with the Yangtze River main stream are dedicated key interfaces. In this study, water quality data were recorded in situ and on-line in varying depths with the MINIBAT towed underwater multi-sensor system in the confluence zone of the Daning River and the Yangtze River close to Wushan City during 1 week in August 2011. Geostatistical evaluation of the water quality data was performed, and results were compared to phosphorus contents of selective water samples. The strongly rising water level throughout the measurement period caused Yangtze River water masses to flow upstream into the tributary and supply their higher nutrient and particulate loads into the tributary water body. Rapid algal growth and sedimentation occurred immediately when hydrodynamic conditions in the confluence zone became more serene again. Consequently, water from the Yangtze River main stream can play a key role in providing nutrients to the algal bloom stricken water bodies of its tributaries.

Concepts: Water, Yangtze River, Stream, Chongqing, Three Gorges Dam, Hubei, Three Gorges, Yichang


In the present study, a rapid and repeatable microemulsion electrokinetic chromatography (MEEKC) method was developed for the simultaneous determination of three isomers (α-, β- and γ-asarone) in Acorus tatarinowii by using ionic liquid 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate ([BMIM]PF(6)) as oil phase. Experimental parameters including the microemulsion compositions (concentrations of surfactant, co-surfactant and oil phase), pH, concentration of borate buffer, capillary temperature and voltage were intensively investigated. Finally, the main compounds in the methanol extract of A. tatarinowii were well separated within 11min using a running buffer composed of 40mmol/L sodium dodecyl sulfonate (SDS), 2.0mol/L n-propanol, 8mmol/L [BMIM]PF(6) in 10mmol/L borate buffer of pH 9.5. The developed method was applied to determine the contents of α-, β- and γ-asarone in A. tatarinowii from five different producing areas in China (Anhui, Hebei, Sichuan, Zhejiang and Chongqing). The results indicated that the contents of three asarones are quite different in the investigated A. tatarinowii samples. On the other hand, the MEEKC with ionic liquid as oil phase should be a promising method for the analysis of volatile components especially isomers in medicinal herbs.

Concepts: Liquid, Yangtze River, Emulsion, Ionic liquid, Borax, 1-Butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate, Hexafluorophosphate, Ionic liquids


The impounding of the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) at the Yangtze River caused large flooding of urban, industrial, and agricultural areas, and profound land use changes took place. Consequently, substantial amounts of organic and inorganic pollutants were released into the reservoir. Additionally, contaminants and nutrients are entering the reservoir by drift, drainage, and runoff from adjacent agricultural areas as well as from sewage of industry, aquacultures, and households. The main aim of the presented research project is a deeper understanding of the processes that determines the bioaccumulation and biomagnification of organic pollutants, i.e., mainly pesticides, in aquatic food webs under the newly developing conditions of the TGR. The project is part of the Yangtze-Hydro environmental program, financed by the German Ministry of Education and Science. In order to test combinations of environmental factors like nutrients and pollution, we use an integrated modeling approach to study the potential accumulation and biomagnification. We describe the integrative modeling approach and the consecutive adaption of the AQUATOX model, used as modeling framework for ecological risk assessment. As a starting point, pre-calibrated simulations were adapted to Yangtze-specific conditions (regionalization). Two exemplary food webs were developed by a thorough review of the pertinent literature. The first typical for the flowing conditions of the original Yangtze River and the Daning River near the city of Wushan, and the second for the stagnant reservoir characteristics of the aforementioned region that is marked by an intermediate between lake and large river communities of aquatic organisms. In close cooperation with German and Chinese partners of the Yangtze-Hydro Research Association, other site-specific parameters were estimated. The MINIBAT project contributed to the calibration of physicochemical and bathymetric parameters, and the TRANSMIC project delivered hydrodynamic models for water volume and flow velocity conditions. The research questions were firstly focused on the definition of scenarios that could depict representative situations regarding food webs, pollution, and flow conditions in the TGR. The food webs and the abiotic site conditions in the main study area near the city of Wushan that determine the environmental preconditions for the organisms were defined. In our conceptual approach, we used the pesticide propanil as a model substance.

Concepts: Pollution, Yangtze River, Chongqing, Biomagnification, Three Gorges Dam, Hubei, Three Gorges, Yichang


For flood control purpose, the water level of the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) varies significantly. The annual reservoir surface elevation amplitude is about 30 m behind the dam. Filling of the reservoir has created about 349 km(2) of newly flooded riparian zone. The average flooding period lasts for more than 6 months, from mid-October to late April. The dam and its associated reservoir provide flood control, power generation, and navigation, but there are also many environmental challenges. The littoral zone is the important part of the TGR, once its eco-health and stability are damaged,which will directly endanger the ecological safety of the whole reservoir area and even the Yangtze River Basin. So, understanding the great ecological opportunities which are hidden in littoral zone of TGR (LZTGR) and putting forward approaches to solve the environmental problems are very important. LZTGR involves a wide field of problems, such as the landslides, potential water pollution, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, land cover changes, and other issues. The Three Gorges dam (TGD) is a major trigger of environmental change in the Yangtze River. The landslides, water quality, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, dam operation, and challenge for land use are closely interrelated across spatial and temporal scales. Therefore, the ecological and environmental impacts caused by TGD are necessarily complex and uncertain. LZTGR is not only a great environmental challenge but also an ecological opportunity for us. In fact, LZTGR is an important structural unit of TGR ecosystem and has special ecosystem services function. Vegetation growing in LZTGR is therefore a valuable resource due to accumulation of carbon and nutrients. Everyone thinks that the ecological approach to the problem is needed. If properly designed, dike-pond systems, littoral woods systems, and re-created waterfowl habitats will have the capacity to capture nutrients from uplands and obstruct soil erosion. Ecological engineering approaches can therefore reduce environmental impacts of LZTGR and optimize ecological services. In view of the current situation and existing ecological problems of LZTGR, according to function demands such as environmental purification, biodiversity conservation, and vegetation carbon sink enhancement, we should explore the eco-friendly utilization mode of resources in LZTGR. Ecological engineering approaches might minimize the impacts or optimize the ecological services. Natural regeneration and ecological restoration in LZTGR are valuable for soil erosion decrease, pollutant purification, biodiversity conservation, carbon sink increase, and ecosystem health maintenance in TGR.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Ecology, Ecosystem, Yangtze River, Three Gorges Dam, Hubei, Three Gorges, Yichang


To define and evaluate the malaria transmission potential in the Yangtze River, following construction of the Three Gorges Reservoir.

Concepts: China, Yangtze River, Chongqing, Three Gorges Dam, Hubei, Three Gorges, Yichang, History of China


Leprosy continues to be detected at near stable rates in China even with established control programs, necessitating new knowledge and alternative methods to interrupt transmission. A molecular epidemiology investigation of 190 patients was undertaken to define M. leprae strain types and discern genetic relationships and clusters in endemic and non-endemic regions spanning seventeen provinces and two autonomous regions. The findings support multiple locus variable number of tandem repeat (VNTR) analysis as a useful tool in uncovering characteristic patterns across the multiethnic and divergent geographic landscape of China. Several scenarios of clustering of leprosy from township to provincial to regional levels were recognized, while recent occupational or remote migration showed geographical separation of certain strains. First, prior studies indicated that of the four major M. leprae subtypes defined by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), only type 3 was present in China, purportedly entering from Europe/West/Central Asia via the Silk Road. However, this study revealed VNTR linked strains that are of type 1 in Guangdong, Fujian and Guangxi in southern China. Second, a subset of VNTR distinguishable strains of type 3, co-exist in these provinces. Third, type 3 strains with rpoT VNTR allele of 4, detected in Japan and Korea were discovered in Jiangsu and Anhui in the east and in western Sichuan bordering Tibet. Fourth, considering the overall genetic diversity, strains of endemic counties of Qiubei, Yunnan; Xing Yi, Guizhou; and across Sichuan in southwest were related. However, closer inspection showed distinct local strains and clusters. Altogether, these insights, primarily derived from VNTR typing, reveal multiple and overlooked paths for spread of leprosy into, within and out of China and invoke attention to historic maritime routes in the South and East China Sea. More importantly, new concepts and approaches for prospective case finding and tracking of leprosy from county to national level have been introduced.

Concepts: Single-nucleotide polymorphism, China, Yangtze River, Yunnan, Guangdong, Yuan Dynasty, East China Sea, Yi people