Upstream fishway performance by Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and brown trout (Salmo trutta) spawners at complex hydropower dams – is prior experience a success criterion?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Passage of hydropower plants by upstream-migrating salmonid spawners is associated with reduced migration success, and the need for knowledge of fish behavior downstream of dams is widely recognized. In this study, we examined fishway passage of landlocked Atlantic salmon in River Klarälven, Sweden and brown trout in River Gudbrandslågen, Norway, and the influence of prior experience on passage success in 2012 and 2013. Fishway trap efficiency varied from 18 to 88% and was influenced by river discharge. Most salmon (81%) entered the fishway trap on days without spill, and salmon moved from the turbine area to the spill zone when there was spill, with small individuals showing a stronger reaction than large fish. Analysis of fish with and without prior trap experience showed that a higher percentage of the “naïve” fish (70% of salmon and 43% of the trout) entered the fishway traps than the “experienced” ones (25% of the salmon and 15 % of the trout). Delays for fish that entered the trap ranged from 3-70 days for salmon and 2-47 days for trout.