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Effects of avoidance behaviour on downstream fish passage through areas of accelerating flow when light and dark

Elsevier Ltd
DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.03.006
  • Environmental Stimuli
  • Habitat Fragmentation
  • Migration
  • Salmon
  • Smolt
  • Velocity Gradient
  • Physics


To mitigate negative impacts of delayed migration it is necessary to understand the causes of avoidance exhibited by animals at behavioural barriers. For downstream migrating juvenile salmon, avoidance of velocity gradients at anthropogenic structures may compromise fitness. Building on previous experimental investigations on salmonid response to velocity gradients, this study aimed to quantify impacts of behaviour on subsequent passage in the presence and absence of visual cues. In an experimental flume, downstream moving juvenile Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, encountered either a high or a low velocity gradient created by an orifice weir, under light (95lx) or dark (infrared illumination only) conditions. The majority of fish exhibited an observable response on encountering accelerating velocity, with avoidance behaviour elevated when light (45%) in comparison to when dark (12%). More time was spent facing the flow when the velocity gradient was high. Fish that exhibited avoidance were delayed by approximately eight-fold, travelled 3.5 times further, and experienced a higher mean cumulative velocity gradient across the body length (spatial velocity gradient) prior to successful downstream passage. This study highlights the impact of variation in behaviour on fish passage, and the potential for combined multimodal signals (in this instance visual and mechanosensory) to be used to repel fish, for example from hazardous areas such as turbine intakes. Conversely, by limiting information available, undesirable delay, for example at entrances to downstream fish bypasses, may be reduced.

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