Restoring Salmonid Stocks in Boreal Rivers
ecology, spawning, streams, salmon, entrance, vertical slot, denil, lamprey, salmonids, fishway design, design, behavior, migration, habitat, restoration, survival, Brown trout, trout, eggs, riffle, recapture, food, juvenile, smolt, pollution
University of Oulu
In this thesis, I examine two important aspects surrounding salmonid reproductive ecology, namely: (i) the problems with passing obstructions during migratory spawning runs and (ii) how the early life stages in boreal streams are influenced by increased levels of fine-grained particulate matter from drained peatlands. These aspects are not only critical to salmonid reproductive success but have grave implications regarding environmental quality and species conservation. Spawning runs can be re-established by constructing fishways at obstructions but the efficiency of fishways depends on several factors. The passage of multi-sea-winter salmon was enhanced in the Isohaara fishway by increasing its water flow and by creating a small waterfall at the entrance. The fishway, which consists of vertical slot and Denil sections, proved to be unsuitable for most freshwater fish, whitefish, and river lamprey, whereas salmonids, once they had entered, successfully negotiated the fishway. In fishway design, the migratory behavior and the demands of the species of interest should be considered. For salmonids, priority should be given to the attractiveness of the fish entrance. When there is a migration corridor, the availability and the quality of the spawning and rearing habitats has a major effect on the success of restoration projects. In the humid rivers studied, the survival of incubated brown trout eggs was lower in riffles susceptible to increased levels of fine-grained particulate matter from drained peatlands. Additionally, an increase in the Fe content of high molecular weight dissolved organic matter followed by its precipitation and sedimentation was proposed to be involved. Correspondingly, the recapture rates of stocked and yearling salmon were lower in the affected riffles, individual salmon being smaller and thinner and having less food in their stomachs than reference salmon. Based on these results, it seems probable that peatland drainage, by influencing the incubation success of salmonid embryos and the foraging, growth, and survival of juveniles, eventually affects the number and quality of smolts produced. In future, such water pollution control measures should be implemented that would enhance the success of natural spawning and help ensure environmental quality.