As a member of the European consortium RIBES (River flow regulation, fish Behaviour and Status), the River Ecology and Management research group at Karlstad University invites applicants to three PhD positions on fish migration and passage in regulated rivers. In addition to the three PhD positions in Karlstad, RIBES also announces 12 more PhD positions in Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Italy and the UK as part of the same network.

Read more about the PhD positions and how to apply here!

Last application date is 31 May 2020.

To be eligible for one of the PhD positions in Karlstad, candidates cannot have resided in Sweden for 12 months or longer in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date.

For more information about RIBES, check out our website!

River Klarälven in Värmland, Sweden

On 28 May (tomorrow), Martin Österling, Associate Professor at Karlstad University, will give a seminar titled:

“The genetic structure of mussels with complex life cycles and its relation to host fish migratory trait and density.”

The seminar starts at 13:15 in room 5F416 at Karlstad University. Everyone who wants to are welcome to attend the seminar.

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.

World Fish Migration Day

Posted by Karl Filipsson | Events

In approximately three weeks, on April 21, World Fish Migration Day will be celebrated around the world. World Fish Migration Day is a global event with the aim to create awareness of the importance of open river systems for migratory fish. The event is coordinated by the World Fish Migration Foundation. At the time of writing, over 300 events are registered all around the globe for World Fish Migration Day, all with the goal to improve people’s understanding of the importance of healthy river ecosystems and migratory fish populations.

In Forshaga outside of Karlstad, the Swedish anglers association (Sportfiskarna Värmland) will have an open house in their regional office between 10.00-14.00 on April 21. The event is coordinated by the anglers association, researchers from Karlstad University and the sport fishing upper secondary school in Forshaga (ForshagaAkademin). Representatives from the county board in Värmland and the organization Älvräddarna will also participate in the event. Visitors can learn about fish conservation and how to study fish migration. The anglers association will also show their latest movie about river restoration, “Många bäckar små”.

Read more about the event at the anglers association here, and about World Fish Migration Day and World Fish Migration Foundation on their official websites.

We also want to encourage the registration of more events for World Fish Migration Day. In that way we can reach more people, which hopefully will create more interest and awareness of the importance of healthy river ecosystems and migratory fish populations.

Detailed program over the event in Forshaga on World Fish Migration Day (Swedish)

Marcell Szabo-Meszaros, Christy Ushanth Navaratnam, Jochen Aberle, Knut Alfredsen (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Ana T. Silva, Torbjørn Forseth (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research), Olle Calles (Karlstad University) and Hans-Petter Fjeldstad (SINTEF Energy Research) recently published the scientific paper “Experimental hydraulics on fish-friendly trash-racks: an ecological approach” in the journal Ecological Engineering. The study is part of the project SafePass, where methods for safe and efficient migration for salmonids and European eel past hydropower structures are evaluated. SafePass aims to facilitate fish migration in regulated rivers, using perspectives of both the fish and the hydropower industry. Read more about SafePass here.

In the abstract of the paper, the authors write: ”The obstruction of fish migratory routes by hydroelectric facilities is worldwide one of the major threats to freshwater fishes. During downstream migration, fish may be injured or killed on the trash-racks or in the hydropower turbines. Fish-friendly trash-racks that combine both ecological and technical requirements are a solution to mitigate fish mortality at a low operational cost. This study presents results from an experimental investigation of head-losses and the hydrodynamic performance of six angled trash-rack types with 15 mm bar spacing, varying bar-setup (vertical-streamwise, vertical-angled and horizontal bars) and bar profiles (rectangular and drop shape) under steady flow conditions. The trash-racks were positioned at 30° to the wall of the flume and combined with a bypass at their downstream end. The impact of the different trash-rack types on the upstream flow field was characterized using Image based Volumetric 3-component Velocimetry (V3V) and at the bypass-entrance using an Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter (ADV). The results show that trash-racks with vertical streamwise and horizontal oriented bars with drop-shape profiles have similar head-losses (13% difference), while trash-racks with vertical-angled bars provide 3–8 times larger head-losses compared to the remaining configurations. The velocity measurements showed that the highest flow velocities occurred for configurations with vertical-angled bars (0.67ms−1 and 0.81ms−1 on average, respectively).Turbulence related parameters (e.g. Reynolds shear stresses and Turbulent kinetic energy) were also investigated to evaluate the performance of the alternative trash-racks from both, engineering and ecological perspectives.”

Access the paper here, or e-mail any of the authors.

The Volumetric 3-component Velocimetry (V3V) system used in the study.

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.

running_silver“Running Silver – Restoring Atlantic Rivers and Their Great Fish Migration” by John Waldman is a book about the history and future of anadromous fish in the Eastern United States. The books’s main characters are Atlantic salmon, alewife, blueback herring, American shad, striped bass, sea lamprey, Atlantic sturgeon, and American eel. The eel migrates from freshwater to the sea to spawn, whereas the other species typically migrate in the other direction – from feeding areas at sea to spawning areas in freshwater.

The author uses historical records, interviews, scientific literature and personal experiences to tell the story of the migrating fish. He describes the ecology and behavior of the migrating fish but also their great historical abundances, and high social and economic importance. He describes the decline of the populations of migrating fish due to dam building, habitat loss, fishing, and pollution, but also the modern day restoration efforts. The fish are put in a social context with stories about conflicts concerning dams and fish passage dating back several hundred years. Meetings with scientists and manager occur frequently in the book, contributing to the story and providing several inspiring portraits of fish ecologists.

The book is essential reading for anyone working with migrating fish and an important book for those interested in fish and our natural world. The book is a call to action for a future with healthy migrating fish populations. Read a short review here and borrow the book from a  well-stocked library.


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!

nyqvist2016cLast Friday, I, Daniel Nyqvist, successfully defended my PhD-thesis “Atlantic salmon in regulated rivers – Migration, dam passage, and fish behavior” at Karlstad University. Scott Hinch (University of British Columbia, Canada) was opponent and Eva Thorstad (NINA, Norway), Kim Aarestrup (DTU AQUA, Denmark) and Hans Lundqvist (Swedish University of Agriculture) constituted the grading committee (betygskommitté). The short abstract of the thesis reads:

“Hydropower dams block migration routes, thereby posing a threat to migratory fish species. Fishways and other fish passage solutions may aid fish to pass hydropower dams. A functional fish passage solution, however, must ensure safe and timely passage for a substantial portion of the migrating fish. In this thesis, I focus on downstream passage and evaluate the behavior and survival of migrating Atlantic salmon in relation to dams in systems with (1) no fish passage solutions (2) simple passage solutions (3) best available passage solutions. In addition, I studied the survival and behavior of post-spawners and hatchery-released smolts.

A large portion of the spawners survived spawning and initiated downstream migration. For hatchery-reared smolts, early release was associated with faster initiation of migration and higher survival compared to late release. Multiple dam passage resulted in high mortality, and high spill levels were linked to high survival and short delay for downstream migrating salmon. For smolts, dam passage, even with simple passage solutions, was associated with substantial delay and mortality. Rapid passage of a large portion of the migrating adult salmon was achieved using best available passage solutions.”

The frame of the thesis is available here. Already published papers included in the thesis are Post-Spawning Survival and Downstream Passage of Landlocked Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) in a Regulated River: Is There Potential for Repeat Spawning? (in River Research and Applications) and Migratory delay leads to reduced passage success of Atlantic salmon smolts at a hydroelectric dam (in Ecology of Freshwater Fish). For full access to the thesis, contact