Movements of Prespawn Adult Atlantic Salmon Near Hydroelectric Dams in the Lower Penobscot River, Maine

Publication Date



adult, Atlantic salmon, behavior, dams, estuary, habitat, hydroelectric, hydroelectric dams, Maine, Penobscot River, radio telemetry, Salmo salar, salmon, spawning, strategy, telemetry, thermal, transponder, upstream, upstream passage

Journal or Book Title

North American Journal of Fisheries Management


Acoustic telemetry was used to assess riverine behavior and passage success for prespawn male adult Atlantic salmon Salmo salar in the lower Penobscot River, Maine, in 2005 (n = 10) and 2006 (n = 25). Only 3 of 10 (30%) and 2 of 25 (8%) tagged. Atlantic salmon successfully passed all three dams between the head of tide and presumed spawning habitat in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Migrants that failed to pass the second upstream dam frequently fell back into the estuary (3 of 4 in 2005; 17 of 23 in 2006), and few successfully reascended Veazie Dam at the head of tide. Fallback behavior was associated with temperatures exceeding 22 degrees C and may reflect it strategy for coping with thermal stress and migratory delays. Atlantic salmon were also observed to actively seek out thermal refuge near one of the dams. Passage data were compared with results front previous telemetry studies that used Carlin tags and radio telemetry from 1987-1990 and 1992, and passive integrated transponder tags from 2002-2004. For all 10 years of study combined, median passage success was 64, 72, and 93% for the three dams. While 2006 may represent an uncommonly poor year for upstream passage at these dams, median cumulative passage past two of these dams was only 71% and ranged from 8% to 87% among years. Study results indicate that poor upstream passage severely limits migratory success in this system, particularly during periods of high discharge. Planned removal of two of these lower river dams is expected to improve migratory success for adult Atlantic salmon in the Penobscot River system.







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