Russon, Iain J.
The response of eel, lamprey and brown trout to conditions associated with barriers to up- and downstream movement under experimental conditions in a flume.
University of Southampton, School of Engineering and the Environment,
Anthropogenic use of waterways is reducing connectivity at a rate faster than any time in geological history, sometimes causing serious declines in fish populations. Free passage of fish throughout the watercourse is necessary for species utilising different habitats for e.g. residing, spawning and feeding. Fish passes are employed to mitigate for impoundments, but are historically biased in design towards upstream migrating salmonids. Driven partly by more holistic environmental legislation, there is now an increasing interest in other species and life-stages, requiring development of fish passage criteria for multiple species during up- and down-stream migrations. To address these knowledge gaps this research programme undertook laboratory experiments with upstream migrant river lamprey, Lampetra fluviatilis, and downstream migrating European eel, Anguilla anguilla, and brown trout, Salmo trutta. The use of a large open-channel flume allowed control of the motivational state of, and stimuli encountered by the fish. The fish responses to a variety of model weirs and screens placed in the flume were assessed, allowing attainment of species and life-stage specific swimming capability and behavioural information. This research demonstrated that using large flumes where volitional swimming allows natural compensatory behaviours to be undertaken, provides more realistic swimming capability information for fish pass criteria than some traditional methods (i.e. confined swim chambers). Dependent on species and direction of movement, all structures tested had some level of impediment to migration, with small gauging weirs almost completely impeding movement of upstream migrant river lamprey under the conditions presented. Downstream migrant anguilliforms were seen to demonstrate structure oriented, thigmotactic behaviour compared to salmonids which responded to flow fields. Under high velocities, this lack of reaction to hydraulic cues may result in a higher probability of damage and mortality at facilities traditionally designed to protect salmonids. The information provided by this research, e.g. accurate swimming speeds and fish response to associated hydraulic conditions, will aid the production of effective multi-species fish pass facilities
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