Energy & Wildlife


Hydropower has served as a reliable source of electricity to many communities and industries across the nation. While providing power, hydroelectric dams create barriers to fish migration and alter upstream and downstream ecosystems. As hydropower dams age and require critical upgrades, USGS hydrologists, engineers and fish biologists work together to design the next generation of dams and operational protocols that improve passage for migratory fish and cause fewer negative effects on aquatic ecosystems.

Filter Total Items: 15
Date published: March 29, 2019
Status: Active

Evaluation and Development of Fish Passage Structures and Technologies

Dams can be found in just about every major river, and for good reason.  Society has received many benefits like flood control, hydropower, water supply storage, and places to recreate.  However, many fish and other life in our rivers can’t swim around these barriers.  Often, the best spot for a fish to live and reproduce is out of reach because they can’t pass by a dam.  This has not gone...

Date published: December 13, 2018
Status: Active

WFRC Ecology Section - Projects Overview

The Ecology Section examines how environmental variability, human activities and infrastructure influence food web interactions and species performance in freshwater and marine ecosystems. We have extensive experience in quantifying aquatic food web processes as they relate to growth, survival and production of key species of interest, especially resident and anadromous salmonids.

Date published: September 12, 2018
Status: Active

Salmonid Population and Life History Research in Tributary Stream and River Habitats and Response to Dam Removal

Juvenile anadromous salmonids all spend some portion of their lives in freshwater. This time may vary from days to years depending upon species and run. Spring Chinook Salmon and Coho salmon generally spend one year in freshwater and Steelhead may spend up to five years in freshwater prior to beginning their journey to sea. Several projects at WFRC – CRRL are investigating populations, life-...

Contacts: Ian Jezorek
Date published: August 1, 2018
Status: Active

Scientific Support of Salmon and Steelhead Reintroductions in Impounded River Basins of the Pacific Northwest

Salmon and steelhead populations in the Pacific Northwest were severely affected by hydropower development that occurred during the first half of the 20th century.  Impassable dams were constructed on many rivers throughout the region which prevented returning adult salmonids from accessing important habitats where spawning and rearing historically occurred.  In the past two decades...

Contacts: Tobias J Kock
Date published: July 10, 2018
Status: Active

Snake River Fall Chinook Salmon Research

Snake River fall Chinook salmon were listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in 1992. At that time, little was known about the spawning, rearing, migration, and life history of this species. This long-term research and monitoring project has produced much of the contemporary knowledge on fall Chinook salmon that has been used by fish managers to implement recovery measures. The...

Contacts: Kenneth Tiffan, William Connor
Date published: February 15, 2018
Status: Active

Fish Passage

A major focus of USGS-LSC is the design and evaluation of state-of the-art upstream and downstream fish passage structures for hydropower facilities of different sizes and locations and for different fish species, including endangered sturgeons and Atlantic salmon. Performance, physiology, behavior and energetics of each fish species are tested in-house for each design.

Contacts: Alexander Haro
Date published: February 9, 2018
Status: Active

Fish Behavior

Recent discoveries of the extent of sturgeon movement in the Gulf of Maine combined with relicensing and water use issues in the Connecticut River demand closer evaluation of shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon migration and behavior patterns. Through field collaboration with state, federal, university and military institutions LSC-Conte scientists work to define the significance of pre-spawning...

Contacts: Micah Kieffer
Date published: February 5, 2018
Status: Active

Fish Biomechanics

Biomechanics is the study of mechanical laws relating to the movement of living organisms. In regards to fish, biomechanics pertains to the body shape of different species and the various structures of fish muscles, fins, etc. The biomechanics of a fish impact its swimming performance which in turn affects its ability to surpass barriers to movement. Understanding the biomechanical drivers of...

Date published: January 11, 2018
Status: Active

Development of Chemical Tools to Control Asian Carp and Dreissenid Mussels

Over 180 and 140 aquatic invasive species (AIS) have been introduced into the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River basins, respectively, with threats of new invasions always on the horizon. Sea lamprey, zebra mussels, and Asian carps are just a few examples of AIS whose abilities to alter aquatic habitats and disrupt food cycles threaten many outdoor recreation opportunities and ecosystems...

Contacts: Mark Gaikowski
Date published: May 14, 2017
Status: Active

Rainbow Trout Abundance and Movement in the Colorado River in Grand Canyon

Just below Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River is a very popular Blue Ribbon trout fishery known for its rainbow trout. However, approximately 78 miles downstream, near were the Little Colorado River flows into the Colorado River, is a population of endangered humpback chub. The introduced rainbow trout can negatively affect native humpback chub by competing with them for food (immature...

Contacts: Charles Yackulic, Josh Korman
Date published: February 9, 2017
Status: Active

Invertebrate Drift Downstream of Colorado River Basin Dams

Aquatic invertebrates are critical food for fish and other species that inhabit large rivers. In the Colorado River Basin, invertebrates that get transported down the river (“in the drift”) are particularly important to rainbow trout and other species of interest to recreational users. This research seeks to compare rivers downstream of large dams throughout the Colorado River Basin in order...

Date published: January 18, 2017
Status: Active

Uncovering the Base of the Food Web: Primary Production Dynamics in the Colorado River

Algae, phytoplankton, and rooted macrophytes represent the base of many aquatic food webs and are known as primary producers. Through photosynthesis, these organisms convert sunlight energy into chemical energy (i.e., carbon) that in turn fuels the growth of animals such as macroinvertebrates and fish. This project uses high frequency measurements of dissolved oxygen, which is a by-product of...