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.


Tracking smolts in Huntington River, a tributary to Winooski River.

The accepted version of the scientific article “Downstream migration and multiple dam passage by Atlantic salmon smolts” by Daniel Nyqvist (Kau), Stephen McCormick (USGS), Larry Greenberg (Kau), William Ardren (US Fish and Wildlife), Eva Bergman (Kau), Olle Calles (Kau), and Theodore Castro-Santos (USGS) is available online at North American Journal of Fisheries Management. The paper presents a study on downstream migration and dam passage of landlocked Atlantic salmon smolts in the River Winooski, a tributary to Lake Champlain.

In the abstract the authors write: “The purpose of this study was to investigate behavior and survival of radio-tagged wild- and hatchery-reared landlocked Atlantic salmon smolts as they migrated past three hydropower dams equipped with fish bypass solutions in the Winooski River, Vermont, USA. Among hatchery-released smolts, those released early were more likely to initiate migration and did so after less delay than those released late. Once migration was initiated, however, the late-released hatchery smolts migrated at greater speeds. Throughout the river system hatchery released fish performed similarly to wild fish. Dam passage rates varied between the three dams and was highest at the dam where unusually high spill levels occurred throughout the study period. Of the 50 fish that did migrate downstream, only 10% managed to reach the lake. Migration success was low despite the presence of bypass solutions, underscoring the need for evaluations of remedial measures; simply constructing a fishway is not synonymous with providing fish passage.”

Access the paper here or contact the authors.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), February 28, David Aldvén from the University of Gothenburg and Vattenfall AB, will give a seminar titled ”Downstream migration of anadromous brown trout”. David Aldvén finished his PhD with a thesis titled ”Migration in anadromous brown trout”. The frame of his thesis is available online here.

The seminar will be given at 13:30 in room 5F416 on Karlstad University. Everyone is welcome to attend!


On Tuesdag, 20 September, David Aldvén from the University of Gothenburg, was to give a seminar titled ”Downstream migration of anadromous brown trout”. David Aldvén recently finished his PhD with a thesis titled “Migration in anadromous brown trout”. The frame of his thesis is available online here.

The seminar has been CANCELED.

masteratranMarius Heiß, a master student who has been working by River Ätran has finished his thesis titled “Evaluation of innovative rehabilitation measures targeting downstream migrating Atlantic salmon smolt (Salmo salar) at a hydroelectric power plant in southern Sweden” . In the abstract he writes:

“The ecological state of streams and rivers has aggravated on a global scale due to a wide range of anthropogenic influences. The disruption of migratory routes for diadromous fishes by hydroelectric power plants have led to major stock declines over the last century. As a result fishways have been built at many hydroelectric power plants in Europe to improve migration conditions at such obstacles. This measure may improve upstream migration, but typically does not solve corresponding passage problems for downstream migrating fish. Consequently large numbers of downstream migrants, e.g. Atlantic salmon smolt (Salmo salar), are forced to pass turbines on their way to the ocean. There are few rehabilitation measures specifically targeting downstream passage conditions and most of them lack scientific evaluation.

This thesis reports on a radio-telemetric-study to evaluate innovative rehabilitation measures targeting downstream migrating Atlantic salmon smolt, at a hydropower plant in southern Sweden. There had been extensive renovation works at the study site to improve passage conditions for migrating fishes. The conventional turbine rack and a modified conventional trash gate were replaced by a low sloping β-rack adjacent to a full depth bypass channel. Moreover, a nature-like fishway was built at the site.
The results show that the evaluated rehabilitation measures were able to significantly improve downstream passage conditions for Atlantic salmon smolts. Total passage success was high (94%) and bypass efficiency has increased by 68%, whereas the number of smolts passing through the turbines was reduced by 63%. Although there were some issues associated with the monitoring station in the new bypass, the results are promising and so prospective constructions of low-sloping β-racks with full-depth bypasses should lead to improved downstream passage conditions at additional hydroelectric power plants.”

Read the master thesis here.