River Rottnan in winter

Johan Watz, Olle Calles, Niclas Carlsson, Teemu Collin, Ari Huusko, Jörgen Johnsson, Anders Nilsson, Johnny Norrgård and Daniel Nyqvist recently published the paper “Wood addition in the hatchery and river environments affects post-release performance of overwintering brown trout” in the journal Freshwater Biology.

In the abstract, the authors write:

“1. Habitat structural complexity affects the behaviour and physiology of individuals, and responses to the  environment can be immediate or influence performance later in life through delayed effects.

2. Here, we investigated how structural enrichment, both pre-release in the hatchery rearing environment and post-release in the wild, influenced winter growth and site fidelity of brown trout stocked into side channels of a regulated river.

3. Experiencing structural enrichment in the rearing environment during 3 months in autumn had no pre-release effect on growth, but a delayed positive effect after release during the subsequent winter. Moreover, trout recaptured in wood-treated sections of the side channels had grown more than trout recaptured in control sections. Wood enrichment in the side channels also increased overwinter site fidelity.

Johan Watz at the field site.

4. These results show that adding structure during a relatively short period may alter growth trajectories, and adding wood to side channels is a cost-effective method to enhance winter habitat carrying capacity for  juvenile salmonids in regulated rivers.”

Access the paper here.

Teemu Collin tracking trout at the field site.


Dead wood in a side channel of the river.


River Rottnan.

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.


Radiotagged migrating brown trout.

Next week, Daniel Nyqvist, PhD-student at Karlstad University, will defend his (my…) thesis “Atlantic salmon in regulated rivers: migration, dam passage, and fish behavior”. The defense will take place on Friday, December 9th, at 10:15 in room 9C 203 on Karlstad University. The abstract and the frame of the thesis are available online here.

Scott Hinch (University of British Columbia, Canada) is the opponent and Eva Thorstad (NINA, Norway), Kim Aarestrup (DTU AQUA, Denmark) and Hans Lundqvist (Swedish University of Agriculture) constitute the grading committee (betygskommitté). The visiting researchers will give seminars at Karlstad University on Thursday, December 8th. The seminars start at 14:15 in room 5F322:

Scott Hinch: Using telemetry in adaptive management experiments at fish passage facilities

Eva Thorstad: New results on downstream migration of eel and salmon past power stations in Germany

Hans Lundqvist: Wild Baltic stocks of Atlantic salmon in northern Sweden: Where are we and where are we going in Umeälven?

Kim Aarestrup has yet to disclose the title of his seminar.

Everyone is welcome to attend both the PhD-defense and the seminars.

AlvräddarnaI det senaste numret av Älvräddarnas tidning Älvräddaren skriver jag och Olle Calles om en del av vår forskning kring vattenkraft, fiskvägar och vandrande lax. Artikeln inleds med att  “Under de senaste hundra åren har utbyggnaden av vattenkraften blockerat många älvar vilket utrotat eller kraftigt minskat många fiskbestånd. Vattenkraften är idag mycket viktig för Sveriges ekonomi och står för ungefär hälften av landets elproduktion. Det enskilda vattenkraftverkets bidrag till den totala energiförsörjningen är dock väldigt skiftande. De tvåhundra största kraftverken står för över 90% av elproduktionen medan de minsta 1500 kraftverken bara producerar 1% av vattenkraftens elproduktion. Detta öppnar för skilda fiskpassagelösningar på olika platser. Genom att riva ut mindre betydelsefulla kraftverksdammar kan många vattendrag öppnas upp för vandrande fisk. Samtidigt kommer dock behovet av att utnyttja älvarna för elproduktion vara fortsatt högt under överskådlig framtid. Men livskraftiga bestånd av vandrande fiskar och vattenkraft behöver inte utesluta varandra. Med genomgripande fiskpassageåtgärder kan en stor andel fisk på kort tid passera vattenkraftverken i både uppströms och nedströms riktning. Det visar vår forskning från Karlstads Universitet.”.

Artikeln har titeln  Tillbaka till framtiden – lax och vattenkraft i samma vattendrag? och behandlar vandrande lax och vattenkraft i Klarälven, Winooski River och Ätran. Den går att läsa i sin helhet i online-versionen av tidningen här.

The scientific paper “The Migratory Behaviour and Fallback Rate of Landlocked Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) in a Regulated River: does Timing Matter?” by Anna Hagelin, Olle Calles, Larry Greenberg, Daniel Nyqvist and Eva Bergman was recently published in River Research and Applications. The system studied is the River Klarälven, Sweden and in the abstract the authors write:

“The behavior of early (June–July) and late (August–September) migrating, adult Atlantic salmon, in The River Klarälven, Sweden, was analyzed using radio telemetry. River Klarälven is a regulated river without functioning fishways, instead upstream migrating salmon are trapped and trucked past eight hydropower plants before released back to the river. We distinguished two parts of the spawning migration, that is, one part being the migration from the place where the fish was released to the spawning grounds. The other part was a holding phase on the spawning grounds with little or no movements before spawning. The late salmon spent less of their total time on holding, 36.2%, and more on migration, 63.8%, compared with early migrating salmon, which distributed their time rather evenly between migration, 47.5%, and holding, 52.5%. In total, early salmon used 30% more time migrating and 156% more time holding than late salmon. Some Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) fell back over the hydropower plant after release and got excluded from spawning. The fallback rates of transported, tagged spawners were higher in the early than in the late group in both years. The fallback rate in 2012 was 42.8% of the early group and 15.1% in the late. In 2013, there were 51.7 % fallbacks in the early group and 3.4% in the late. The salmon fell back on average 9 days after being released in 2012 and 16 days in 2013. A high mean daily discharge on the day of release increased the probability of becoming a fallback”

Download the paper here. If you don’t have free access, email any of the co-authors.


Kelt framför intagsgaller (foto: Herman Wanningen).

Den vetenskapliga artikeln ”Post-spawning survival and downstream passage of landlocked Atlantic salmon (salmo salar) in a regulated river: is there potential for repeat spawning?”, om efterleksöverlevnad, nedströmsmigration och passage hos lax-kelt i Klarälven, har publicerats i River Research and Applications. Författare är Daniel Nyqvist, Olle Calles, Eva BergmanAnna Hagelin och Larry Greenberg.

I abstraktet skriver författarna: “Repeat salmonid spawners may make large contributions to total recruitment and long term population stability. Despite their potential importance, relatively little is known about this phase of the life history for anadromous populations, and nothing has been reported for landlocked populations. Here, we studied post-spawning behaviour and survival of landlocked Atlantic salmon in relation to downstream dam passage in the River Klarälven, Sweden. Eight hydropower stations separate the feeding grounds in Lake Vänern from the spawning grounds in the River Klarälven, and no measures to facilitate downstream migration are present in the river. Forty-nine percent of the salmon survived spawning and initiated downstream migration. Females and small fish had higher post-spawning survival than males and large fish. The postspawners migrated downstream in autumn and spring and remained relatively inactive in the river during winter. Downstream migration speed in the free flowing part of the river was highly variable with a median of 9.30 km/day. Most fish passed the first hydropower station via upward-opening spill gates after a median residence time in the forebay of 25 min. However, no tagged fish survived passage of all eight hydropower stations to reach Lake Vänern. This result underscores the need for remedial measures to increase the survival of downstream migrating kelts.”

Läs artikeln här. Om du inte har tillgång till tidskriftens innehåll men ändå vill läsa artikeln, maila någon av författarna!

Den vetenskapliga artikeln “Ice cover alters the behavior and stress level of brown trout Salmo trutta”, om juvenila öringars vinterbeteende, har publicerats i Behavioral Ecology. Artikeln är resultatet av ett avdelningsgemensamt experiement på Karlstads Universitet där Johan Watz och Bror Jonsson hållit i taktpinnen.  Övriga författare är Eva Bergman, Olle Calles, Åsa Enefalk, Stina Gustafsson, Anna Hagelin, Anders Nilsson, Johnny Norrgård, Daniel Nyqvist, Martin Österling, John Piccolo, Lea Schneider och Larry Greenberg.

I abstraktet beskrivs studien: “Surface ice in rivers and lakes buffers the thermal environment and provides overhead cover, protecting aquatic animals from terrestrial predators. We tested if surface ice influenced the behavior (swimming activity, aggressive encounters, and number of food items eaten) and stress level (coloration of eyes and body) of stream-living brown troutSalmo trutta at temperatures of 3–4 °C in indoor experimental flumes. We hypothesized that an individual’s resting metabolic rate (RMR, as measured by resting ventilation rate) would affect winter behavior. Therefore, groups of 4 trout, consisting of individuals with high, low, or mixed (2 individuals each) RMR, were exposed to experimental conditions with or without ice cover. Ice cover reduced stress responses, as evaluated by body coloration. Also, trout in low RMR groups had a paler body color than those in both mixed and high RMR groups. Trout increased their swimming activity under ice cover, with the highest activity found in high RMR groups. Ice cover increased the number of aggressive encounters but did not influence the number of drifting food items taken by each group. In mixed RMR groups, however, single individuals were better able to monopolize food than in the other groups. As the presence of surface ice increases the activity level and reduces stress in stream-living trout, ice cover should influence their energy budgets and production. The results should be viewed in light of ongoing global warming that reduces the duration of ice cover, especially at high latitudes and altitudes.”

Läs artikeln här. Om du inte har tillgång till tidskriftens innehåll men ändå vill läsa artikeln, maila någon av författarna!