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

For the first Tuesday seminar of the year, Kristine Lund Bjørnås, PhD-student at Karlstad University, will talk about evidence synthesis in environmental science. The seminar will be held Tuesday 23 January at 13:15 in room 5F416 at Karlstad University. Everyone is welcome to attend the seminar.

In preparation for the seminar, Kristine writes:

“In these times of alternative facts and post truth, the role and authority of scientists in society is challenged. It is therefore important that we as scientists continue to improve our methods and communication – and one way of doing that is to increase interaction with the end-users of scientific findings. In environmental- and natural resource management, many important policy and practice decisions are not being taken based on the best available scientific evidence, even when that is an explicit management objective. For instance, in a questionnaire among conservation practitioners in England, the majority (77%) reported that they used “commonsense”, “personal experience” or “speaking to other managers” as their primary source of information prior to management actions (Sutherland et al. 2004). This might be because there is no clear understanding of what the best available scientific evidence (i.e. “what works”) is. As a response to this need for more evidence-based environmental management, systematic reviews have found their way also into environmental science.

Brown trout (Salmo trutta), the model species of Kristine’s dissertation project, in an aquarium at Karlstad University.

In this seminar I will go through the principles of systematic reviewing literature, the strengths and weaknesses of the method, and I will talk about my current review project.”

References:

Sutherland, W.J.; Pullin, A.; Dolman, P.M. & Knight, T.M. 2004. The need for evidence-based conservation. TRENDS Ecol Evol. 19.6.

See also:

Mistra Council for Evidence-based Environmental management

Collaboration for Environmental Evidence

Kristine Lund Bjørnås recently started a licentiate position within the NRRV-research group at Karlstad University. Here she briefly presents her background and what she plans to do during her licentiate:

“Hello! My name is Kristine Lund Bjørnås and I recently started a licentiate degree (which is ½ a PhD) within the NRRV group at Karlstad University. Like Klarälven I started in Norway before I slowly found my way to Karlstad. I grew up in a town called Melhus in Mid-Norway, with one of the country’s best salmon rivers – Gaula – as a neighbour. My interest in anadromous salmonid conservation arose naturally. I have since lived and studied in Trondheim, Ås, Reykjavík, Steinkjer, and Lund before moving to Värmland.

Before Kristine Lund Bjørnås started her licentiate position she volunteered at a bird ringing station in Southern Norway. Here they have caught and ringed a young male sparrowhawk.

In my licentiate project, I am studying the spatial ecology of brown trout in local streams. My goal is to pinpoint the most cost-effective and informative method to predict living conditions for juveniles under different flow regimes and after river restoration measures. Thinking back to my hometown river system, the main focus is on the adults of the anadromous trout populations and on their conditions for spawning. The conditions for juveniles is often overlooked, but for efficient conservation of these threatened populations, we need to consider both. Which brings me back to my project. I will test if it is possible to predict the distribution, density, and growth of juveniles using habitat and fitness-based models of increasing complexity. The simplest models use physical habitat and hydrology to estimate usable area of a stream section; the most complex models – so-called drift-foraging or net energy intake models – also incorporate food (drifting insects) and foraging theory. By adding spatial and temporal variations in drift concentration given a flow, the models can be made more realistic – although a model will always be a simplification of the entire complexity of the natural world. I am sure to make mistakes, but to avoid repeating previous ones, I am doing a review of studies attempting to model drift- foraging in streams. I will start my main fieldwork in the late spring of 2018. There will be opportunities to join in on that, so stay tuned!

Autumn field survey in Örebro county. Kristine Lund Bjørnås sampling with visiting professor Kurt Fausch in the background. Photo: Carola Gutfreund.

I did my Master in Conservation Biology at Lund University. I am very interested in the broad societal and ethical discussions that arise in conservation biology. I wrote my thesis on spatial variations and potential drivers of population trends of birds breeding along the Swedish coast – in general, “warm-adapted” bird species (measured in species temperature index STI) have increased while “cold-adapted” species have declined over the last 27 years.”