Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 7104
Title: Illumination influences the ability of migrating juvenile salmonids to pass a submerged experimental weir
Author: Paul S. Kemp, John G. Williams
Publication Year: 2009
Journal: Ecology of Freshwater Fish
Volume: 18
Issue: 2
Pages: 297-304

The downstream migration of juvenile salmonids has previously been considered predominantly passive.  It has been argued that passive displacement during periods of darkness is, partially at least, a result of an inability to maintain a fixed position in the absence of visual cues.  In this study, behaviour of juvenile Pacific salmonids was assessed under conditions of light and dark as they passed through an artificial channel and encountered a submerged weir.  Results indicated that when light, fish formed schools and actively explored the channel.  Conversely, when dark (infrared illumination only) they did not form schools, but maintained randomly distributed positions holding station against the flow.  As a consequence, more fish approached and either passed, or rejected, the weir when light.  The majority of fish that passed the weir did so within the first minute of each trial.  Fish predominantly passed through the channel facing downstream and changed orientation prior to passing tail first over the weir crest in the presence and absence of visual cues.  The orientation switch was less common when dark.  This study shows, at a fine-resolution scale, that downstream movement of juvenile salmonids can be inhibited as fish exhibit alternative behaviours in the absence of visual cues.  Downstream movement was not predominantly passive.  Fish passage design should not be based on the assumption that downstream migration is passive.

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