Guidance of Yearling Shortnose and Pallid Sturgeon Using Vertical Bar Rack and Louver Arrays
guidance, sturgeon, hydroelectric, hydroelectric dams, migration, protection, behavior, structures, flume, water depth, guidance efficiency, efficiency, spacing, approach velocity, transponder, night, swimming
Journal or Book Title
North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Some populations of shortnose sturgeon Acipenser brevirostrum and pallid sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus have been divided by hydroelectric dams, and migration downstream past the dams likely continues. No protection for downstream migrants is presently available, and the behavior of sturgeon to guidance structures has not been studied. We conducted experiments in a 5.4-m-long × 1.5-m-wide flume with a water depth of 37 cm to determine the guidance efficiency and behavior of yearling shortnose and pallid sturgeon to two guidance structures, a bar rack and a louver array. We tested one vertical bar rack configuration with slats spaced 3.9 cm apart (clear spacing). The bar rack slats were oriented directly into the approach flow, and the row of slats was oriented at a 45° angle to the flow. We tested two louver array configurations, one with slats spaced 3.9 cm apart and one with slats spaced 9.0 cm apart (clear spacing). Louver slats were oriented at a 90° angle to the flow, and the row of slats was oriented at a 20° angle to the approach flow. Mean approach velocity to both structures was 31-34 cm/s. Eighteen shortnose sturgeon tagged with passive integrated transponders were tested once in each configuration; 24-38 pallid sturgeon were tested in each configuration. Shortnose sturgeon showed some behavioral differences due to experience with the bar rack, but experience did not affect the percent guided. Both sturgeon species were guided efficiently by the louver array (96-100%) but less efficiently by the bar rack (58-80%). Shortnose sturgeon were more likely to contact the bar rack at night than during the day (P = 0.01) and at night were more likely to contact the bar rack than the louver array (P = 0.006). Bar racks guided fewer individuals at night than during the day. For pallid sturgeon, the percentages guided by day and night were 80 and 58, respectively; for shortnose sturgeon, the percentages were 80 and 67. Both species used vision to avoid structures because both increased contact with structures at night. Shortnose sturgeon were superior to pallid sturgeon at swimming off the bottom and avoiding structures.