Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 7103
Title: Response of migrating Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) smolts to instream structure associated with culverts
Author: Paul S. Kemp, John G. Williams
Publication Year: 2008
Journal: River Research and Applications
Volume: 24
Issue: 5
Pages: 571-579

Poorly designed culverts can impede upstream movements of fish under high flows when excessive water velocities create adverse conditions.  Improvement in upstream fish passage efficiency may occur with placement of structures within culverts that increase hydraulic complexity and provide resting areas.  The effects of structural modification on downstream migrants, however, are unknown.  To address this gap in knowledge, the behavior of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) smolts was assessed in an experimental laboratory flume.  Under light and dark conditions, fish were observed as they encountered either an unmodified aluminum channel (control) or one of two treatments: an intermediate substrate (treatment channel lined with corrugated sheet) or a "complex" substrate (addition of cobbles to the "intermediate" treatment).  More smolts passed the control channel than the treatment channels.  Even with control of the variation in flow between channels, under light conditions more fish than expected passed the control channel when paired with the complex treatment.  Smolts more frequently rejected both treatments than the control channel when light, and the complex treatment when dark, by swimming upstream against the flow after entry.  The majority of fish moved through the flume facing downstream, although a greater proportion faced upstream when dark than when light, and entered the control channel.  Velocity of downstream movement (ground velocity) was greater through the control channel than for the treatment routes, and slower than the mean water velocity, and under the dark condition.  When mean water velocities were taken into account, the net velocity through the control channel was not significantly different to the intermediate, and lower than the complex channel.  Juvenile Chinook salmon determined fine–scale variation in structural complexity and exhibited avoidance behavior in the presence and absence of visual stimuli.  Hydraulic stimuli influenced route selection exhibited by migratory juvenile salmonids.