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Computational fluid dynamics-habitat suitability index (CFD-HSI) modelling as an exploratory tool for assessing passability of riverine migratory challenge zones for fish

June 1, 2015

We developed two-dimensional computational fluid hydraulics-habitat suitability index (CFD-HSI) models to identify and qualitatively assess potential zones of shallow water depth and high water velocity that may present passage challenges for five major anadromous fish species in a 2.63-km reach of the main stem Penobscot River, Maine, as a result of a dam removal downstream of the reach. Suitability parameters were based on distribution of fish lengths and body depths and transformed to cruising, maximum sustained and sprint swimming speeds. Zones of potential depth and velocity challenges were calculated based on the hydraulic models; ability of fish to pass a challenge zone was based on the percent of river channel that the contiguous zone spanned and its maximum along-current length. Three river flows (low: 99.1 m3 sec-1; normal: 344.9 m3 sec-1; and high: 792.9 m3 sec-1) were modelled to simulate existing hydraulic conditions and hydraulic conditions simulating removal of a dam at the downstream boundary of the reach. Potential depth challenge zones were nonexistent for all low-flow simulations of existing conditions for deeper-bodied fishes. Increasing flows for existing conditions and removal of the dam under all flow conditions increased the number and size of potential velocity challenge zones, with the effects of zones being more pronounced for smaller species. The two-dimensional CFD-HSI model has utility in demonstrating gross effects of flow and hydraulic alteration, but may not be as precise a predictive tool as a three-dimensional model. Passability of the potential challenge zones cannot be precisely quantified for two-dimensional or three-dimensional models due to untested assumptions and incomplete data on fish swimming performance and behaviours.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Computational fluid dynamics-habitat suitability index (CFD-HSI) modelling as an exploratory tool for assessing passability of riverine migratory challenge zones for fish
DOI 10.1002/rra.2911
Authors Alexander J. Haro, Michael Chelminski, Robert W. Dudley
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title River Research and Applications
Series Number
Index ID 70148554
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Leetown Science Center