The Kootenai River white sturgeon currently spawn (2005) in an 18-kilometer reach of the Kootenai River, Idaho. Since completion of Libby Dam upstream from the spawning reach, there has been only one successful year of recruitment of juvenile fish. Where successful in other rivers, white sturgeon spawn over clean coarse material of gravel size or larger. The channel substrate in the current spawning reach is composed primarily of sand and some buried gravel; within a few kilometers upstream there is clean gravel. We used a 2-dimensional flow and sediment-transport model and the measured locations of sturgeon spawning from 1994-2002 to gain insight into the paradox between the current spawning location and the absence of suitable substrate. Spatial correlations between spawning locations and the model simulations of velocity and depth indicate the white sturgeon tend to select regions of highest velocity and depth within any river cross-section to spawn. These regions of high velocity and depth are independent of pre- or post-dam flow conditions. A simple sediment-transport simulation suggests that high discharge and relatively long duration flow associated with pre-dam flow events might be sufficient to scour the sandy substrate and expose existing lenses of gravel and cobble as lag deposits in the current spawning reach.
|Title||Modeling hydraulic and sediment transport processes in white sturgeon spawning habitat on the Kootenai River, Idaho|
|Authors||Richard R. McDonald, Jonathan M. Nelson, Vaughn Paragamian, Gary J. Barton|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Journal of Hydraulic Engineering|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||National Research Program - Central Branch|