Anna Hagelin and the opponent Professor Ian Fleming, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, at Anna’s PhD defense

Anna Hagelin successfully defended her PhD thesis with the title “Conservation of landlocked Atlantic salmon in a regulated river: Behaviour of migratory spawners and juveniles12 April this year.

Anna also presented her research at “forskningspodden” (the research podcast), which is a popular science podcast at Karlstad University. Here you can listen to Anna talk about her research on salmon conservation in river Klarälven (in Swedish).

Anna Hagelin’s PhD thesis nailed at the main entrance at Karlstad University.

PhD-defense: Conservation of landlocked Atlantic salmon in a regulated river

On Friday 12 April, Anna Hagelin will defend her PhD-thesis “Conservation of landlocked Atlantic salmon in a regulated river – Behaviour of migratory spawners and juveniles”. The defense will take place at 10:00 in room 1B309 (Sjöströmssalen) at Karlstad University. Everyone is welcome to attend the defense.

Ian Fleming (Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada) will be the opponent and Jaakko Erkinaro (Natural Resources Institute, Finland), Eva Thorstad (Norwegian institute for Nature Research, Norway) and John Armstrong (Marine Scotland Science Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory, Scotland) constitute the grading committee.

 

Mini-symposium on Atlantic salmon

On Thursday 11 April, a mini-symposium on Atlantic salmon will be held in room 5F322 at Karlstad University, where the visiting researchers will give presentations:

 

Anna Hagelin nailed her thesis at the biology department at Karlstad University on Friday 22 March.

14:00-14:30: Ian Fleming, Memorial University of Newfoundland. Life-history dependent migration strategies in Atlantic salmon 

14:30-15:00: Jaakko Erkinaro, Natural Resources Institute Finland. Diversity in Atlantic salmon – evolutionary ecology and management implications 

15:00-15:30: Coffee break

15:30-16:00: Eva Thorstad, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research. Status of salmon in Norway and importance of the ocean phase 

16:00-16:30: John Armstrong, Marine Scotland Science Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory. Current and future applications of science for management of salmon in Scotland

On Tuesday 5 March (tomorrow) Anna Hagelin, PhD student at Karlstad University, will give a pre-dissertation talk titled “Conservation of landlocked Atlantic salmon in a regulated river: behaviour of migratory spawners and juveniles”. The seminar starts at 13:15 in room 5F416. Everyone is welcome to attend the seminar.

Anna will defend her doctoral thesis on 12 April at 10:00 in room 1B309 at Karlstad University. More information will come closer to the dissertation.

As part of the Gullspång salmon and -trout monitoring program, a group of people from the management group, Gammelkroppa Lax and Jyväskylä University/Fortum perform redd surveys in the river every year in early December. The salmon and trout in the Gullspång River spawn fairly late in the season, first trout in October-early November and then salmon in November until around the beginning of December.

This year I was invited to assist in the redd surveys, which I of course said yes to! Any chance to learn more about the Gullspång salmon and -trout is valuable for the model I’m making. Plus, it’s nice to get out of the office, even when the temperature is close to zero. And it’s also very inspiring to meet other people who are studying the Gullspång salmonids.

 

Lilla Åråsforsen. With sunrise at around 8:30 and sundown at 15:30, we had to be efficient to cover the three areas (about 6.4 hectares) in the precious daylight hours the four days.

 

So, we started by the Årås bay (Åråsviken) on Tuesday, and slowly worked our way upstream. With layers upon layers (upon layers…etc.) under our waders, and thick, wadded rubber gloves we walked gracefully around in the three spawning areas – Lilla & Stora Åråsforsen and Gullspångsforsen- to look for anything that could be a fish-made structure in the gravel beds. Sometimes we had redds that looked like textbook examples of redds, other times they didn’t look like anything. To confirm or disprove that it was an active redd, we did some careful digging in the pit itself to see if it contained at least two live eggs. The females often do some test diggings before the “real deal”.

We marked confirmed redds with conspicuously colored stones so that they can be found again in the spring; their location was also mapped with a GPS. Initially, we started with Finnish marking stones, but to our slight surprise they ran out (see why further down). We therefore had to settle with slightly lighter Swedish stones the last few days. Sadly, Norway was not represented with any stones (but we’ll see next year).

We also took measurements of the dimensions of the redds, as well as the depth and velocities along the gradient between start of pit and end of tail. I quickly took the role of propeller lady, taking the flow velocity measurements with NRRV’s OTT meters. It was interesting to see how much higher the velocity generally was in the tail compared to in the pit.

 

Horseshoe-formed tail of a large redd in Lilla Åråsforsen rapids marked with a white-painted and numbered stone. The marking stones were bought from a local stone dealer in Finland and brought to Gullspång.

 

I’ve saved the best for the end: the reason why we kept running out of marking stones was that we counted a record number of redds this year! We found redds also where they usually are not found, in total around 190 of them! It’s a careful victory, because we don’t yet know how many of them are salmon respective trout redds. But it was a nice early Christmas present, and I’m glad I joined!

/Kristine Lund Björnås

 

Learn more:

Management report on the monitoring results on Gullspång salmon and –trout in 2017:

http://extra.lansstyrelsen.se/vanern/Sv/publikationer/2018-2020/Sidor/Gullsp%C3%A5ngs%C3%A4lven_2017.aspx

 

Salmon females design their redds in a sophisticated way to increase velocities and dissolved oxygen to the egg pockets as shown with a 3D fluid dynamic model:

Tonina, D. & Buffington, J.M. (2009). Doi:10.1139/F09-146

Daniel Nyqvist, Jonas Elghagen, Marius Heiss and Olle Calles recently published the article “An angled rack with a bypass and a nature-like fishway pass Atlantic salmon smolts downstream at a hydropower dam” in the journal Marine and Freshwater Research.

In the abstract, the authors write:

Hydropower dams disrupt longitudinal connectivity and cause fragmentation of river systems, which has led to declines in migratory fish species. Atlantic salmon smolts rely on intact longitudinal connectivity to move downstream from rearing habitats in freshwater to feeding grounds at sea. Smolts often suffer increased mortality and delays when they encounter hydropower plants during their downstream migration. Currently, there are few examples of downstream passage solutions that allow safe and timely passage. We assessed the performance of two passage solutions at a hydropower dam, namely, an angled 15-mm rack with a bypass and a large nature-like fishway. The performance of these new fish passage solutions was evaluated by tracking radio-tagged Atlantic salmon smolts as they encountered the facilities. The radio-tagged smolts passed the dam 9.5 h after release (median) and exhibited a dam-passage efficiency of 84%, with passage rates increasing with body length. Fish passage occurred through both the rack bypass and the naturelike fishway. The passage efficiencies were 70–95% for the rack bypass and 47% for the nature-like fishway. The new fish passage facilities resulted in improved passage conditions at the site, confirming that angled racks with bypasses as best practise solutions for downstream passage, but also that large nature-like fishways may act as downstream passage routes for salmon.

Access the paper here, or contact any of the authors.

The experimental flume “Kungsrännan” under construction in Älvkarleby.

Hydropower dams block migration routes and disrupt longitudinal connectivity in rivers, thereby posing a threat to migratory fish species. Various fish passage solutions have been implemented to improve connectivity with varying success. For downstream migrating fish, low sloping turbine intake racks are used to guide fish to bypasses. Current knowledge, however, is based on hydropower plants with intake capacities <72 cm. There is also a trade-off between electricity generation and fish guidance (smaller bar spacing – better for fish, larger bar spacing – better for hydropower). Currently, gap widths/bar spacings of 10-20 mm are recommended but behavioral guidance effects open up the possibility of larger bar spacings.

During spring, Karlstad University in collaboration with Vattenfall and NINA, will experimentally study the behavior and passage performance of downstream migrating salmon smolts approaching a variety of low sloping intake racks. The experiments will be conducted in a new large experimental flume – Kungsrännan – at the Vattenfall hydraulic laboratory in Älvkarleby, Sweden. We will study the passage behavior and performance of smolts for alpha racks – inclined from the bottom up – and beta racks – angled from one side of the channel to the other – with different gap-widths (15-30 mm).

For this, we are looking for one interested and ambitious assistant to join us in Älvkarleby. The assistant will be salaried and is needed from mid-April to mid-June. Housing in the area can be provided. Are you interested in joining us? Contact Olle Calles for more information.

The principle behind downstream fish passage solutions using low sloping intake racks. The fish is swept and guided along a beta rack to a bypass at the rack’s downstream end.

Larry Greenberg at the Lake Champlain research conference.

The Lake Champlain research conference Lake Champlain: Our future is now was held at the Davis Center, University of Vermont, in Burlington 8-9 January 2018. The conference covered a variety of topics, including climate change and native fish restoration. Larry Greenberg, professor at Karlstad University, was invited as keynote speaker at the conference and gave the talk “Conservation of landlocked Atlantic salmon in a regulated river: Taking a holistic approach.” Read more about the conference here.

Andrew Harbicht recently started a postdoc within the NRRV-research group at Karlstad University. Here he briefly presents his background and what he plans to do during his postdoc:

“Hello, my name is Andrew Harbicht and I’m one of the new Post-Docs to have joined the NRRV. My research experience has primarily been focused on salmonids (rainbow trout, brook charr, and Atlantic salmon) and extends from fisheries modeling to population genetics and radio telemetry. I moved to Karlstad from Montreal, Canada, where I conducted my Ph.D. at Concordia University, working together with the US Fish and Wildlife Service on Atlantic salmon restoration in Lake Champlain. During that time we investigated the impacts of hatchery rearing and release techniques on the lifetime survival and dispersal rates of landlocked salmon and investigated the impact of a thiamine deficiency on the migratory capabilities of returning spawners.

My work with this group will focus on the implications of migratory barriers for longitudinal connectivity among Atlantic salmon populations in the Baltic Sea. With the ever-increasing efficiency of new hydroelectric turbines and the costs associated with maintaining outdated installations, more and more energy producers are opting to remove older facilities to focus their efforts on newer structures. The removal of such aging dams and other barriers to migration within rivers is undoubtedly a positive step for river connectivity, though exactly what changes will occur as a result of such actions is simply unknown in many situations. In fact, over the short term, the removal of barriers can cause as many changes as initial installation. In other situations, maintaining instream infrastructure may be the best option available to energy producer. In which case, including structures that permit fish passage is important, but which type of structure is best suited to the job isn’t always clear. Where several options exist, managers need access to accurate information to assist in their decision-making process.

With my project, I’ll be looking at the impact of removing a partial barrier to migration on the movement patterns of Atlantic salmon, as well as the river ecosystem itself in the Mörrumsån river in southern Sweden. Our holistic approach will monitor all levels of the ecosystem, from the mechanisms that shape river terrain (sedimentation) to the smallest bacteria (decomposition) and the largest predators (fish), as well as all things in between (food-webs). I will also be investigating the genetic consequences of changes in movement patterns that result from the removal of a hydroelectric plant. In another river, the river Emån, we’ll be assessing the performance of a new type of fish lift, and Archimedes screw, which permits upstream and downstream passage, all the while producing its own energy. If found to be effective, such devices could greatly improve connectivity in fragmented river landscapes.”

Andrew Harbicht (left) and William Ardren (right) releasing tagged fish in the Boquet River, a  tributary to Lake Champlain.

Andrew Harbicht tracking radio tagged Atlantic salmon.

Larry Greenberg, professor within the River Ecology and Management research group at Karlstad University, is currently studying how increased winter temperatures may affect Atlantic salmon development and subsequent behavior and physiology. Here he describes his research, and shares two videos (one in autumn temperature and one in summer temperature) used to measure (count) ventilation rates on Atantic salmon parr:

“Embryonic temperature conditions are expected to affect an organism’s behavior, as behavior is linked to traits such as metabolic rate and growth. Examining the effects of embryonic temperature is particularly relevant in today’s society as unprecedented rates of climate change are predicted to occur during this century, with a larger temperature increase expected in winter than in summer. Hence, climate change will most likely have large effects on ectotherms (cold-blooded animals) that overwinter their eggs, as is the case for salmonid fishes. The aim of this project is to study the effects of water temperature during the egg stage on the behavior, growth and metabolic rate of juvenile Atlantic salmon.

When it concerns metabolic rates, I hypothesized that elevated temperature during the egg stage will result in reduced standard metabolic rates for juvenile brown trout. Instead of measuring metabolic rates, I have measured breathing rates (ventilation rate), which has been shown to be correlated with metabolic rates. This was done in darkness when breathing rates are lowest, using an infrared-sensitive camera. The two film clips below show two different fish, both of which were raised at cold ambient water temperatures as eggs. One fish was filmed in 7 oC water and the other at 18 oC water.”

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

 

On Tuesday, 18 April, Victoria Pritchard from the University of Turku, will give a seminar on “Conservation Genomics of Atlantic Salmon”. The seminar will be given at 13:30 in room 5F416 at Karlstad University.

Victoria has worked in the UK, USA, and Finland, and has published over 20 articles in leading conservation, evolutionary and fisheries journals. Everyone is welcome to attend the seminar.