Effects of hydropeaking on nearshore habitat use and growth of age-0 rainbow trout in a large regulated river

Publication Date



habitat, rainbow trout, trout, restoration, regulated rivers, Otolith

Journal or Book Title

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society


We evaluated the effects of hourly variation in flow caused by power load following atGlen Canyon Dam ('hydropeaking') on the nearshore habitat use and growth of age-0 rainbowtrout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) downstream from the dam in the Colorado River, Arizona.Reduction in the extent of hydropeaking is a common element of restoration efforts in regulatedrivers, but empirical support for such a practice is limited. Our assessment was based on acomparison of abundance in shoreline areas determined by electrofishing at different flows aswell as analysis of otolith microstructure. The catch rates of age-0 rainbow trout in nearshoreareas were at least two- to fourfold higher at the daily minimum flow than at the daily maximum,indicating that most age-0 rainbow trout do not maintain their position within immediate shorelineareas when flows are high. A striping pattern, identified by the presence of atypical dailyincrements formed every 7 d, was evident in over 50% of the 259 otoliths examined in 2003 but inonly 6% of the 334 examined in 2004. The weekly pattern corresponded to a reduction in theextent of hourly flow fluctuations on Sundays during the growing season, which occurred in 2003but not in 2004. The atypical increments were 25% wider than the adjacent increments and wereindicative of significant (F 15, 235 = 19.2, P < 0.0001) short-term increases in otolith growth. Thesomatic growth rate among fish with otoliths where striping was present (11.2 mm/month) was slightly greater than that among fish with otoliths without striping (10.8 mm/month), but thedifference was not significant. We provide evidence suggesting that otolith growth improved onSundays in 2003 because it was the only day of the week when most age-0 fish were found inimmediate shoreline areas, where higher water temperatures and lower velocities provided bettergrowing conditions.





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