Re-establishment of connectivity for fish populations in regulated rivers

University dissertation from Fakulteten för samhälls- och livsvetenskaper

Abstract: The hydropower industry has altered connectivity in many rivers during the last century. Many fish species depend on both an intact longitudinal connectivity to be able to migrate between spawning, feeding and winter habitats, and vertical connectivity for development and survival of incubating embryos and larvae in the gravel. The objective of this thesis was to examine problems and remedial measures associated with disrupted longitudinal and vertical connectivity in regulated rivers. The issue of longitudinal connectivity was studied in the River Emån by evaluating the efficiency of two nature-like fishways for anadromous brown trout. Telemetry studies showed that the combined efficiency for the two fishways in 2001-2004 was 60.5%. The passage efficiencies of both fishways were high for trout (89-100%), but also for other species such as chub, perch, tench, burbot and roach (74%). The attraction efficiencies were largely dependent on power plant operation, and generally high for the fishway situated next to the tail-race and low for the fishway situated inside the former channel. More than half of the trout spawners were also observed using the fishways for downstream passage. The densities of brown trout yearlings upstream of the fishways were higher after the fishways were built than during pre-fishway years. Smolts produced upstream of the fishways were observed migrating downstream in 2003-2005. The percentage of smolts that passed both power plants in was 51%, with losses being attributed to predation (15%), turbine-induced mortality (16%) and other reasons (18%). Turbine-induced mortality was higher (40%) at the power plant with four small Francis runners, than at the power plant with one large Kaplan runner (12%). The issue of vertical connectivity was studied in three rivers in Värmland, one unregulated, and two regulated, one of which had no minimum flow requirements. In the unregulated river, temporal patterns in hyporheic water chemistry correlated to variation in surface water chemistry and discharge as expected. In the regulated rivers, the hyporheic water chemistry showed little correlation to discharge or surface water chemistry. The intra-gravel water chemistry conditions for brown trout eggs were more favourable in the unregulated river, characterised by high oxygen levels, than in the two regulated rivers. The regulated river with no minimum flow requirements had critically low oxygen levels at the end of the incubation period.

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