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Swimming behaviour and ascent paths of brook trout in a corrugated culvert

November 1, 2017

Culverts may restrict fish movements under some hydraulic conditions such as shallow flow depths or high velocities. Although swimming capacity imposes limits to passage performance, behaviour also plays an important role in the ability of fish to overcome velocity barriers. Corrugated metal culverts are characterized by unsteady flow and existence of low‐velocity zones, which can improve passage success. Here, we describe swimming behaviour and ascent paths of 148 wild brook trout in a 1.5‐m section of a corrugated metal culvert located in Raquette Stream, Québec, Canada. Five passage trials were conducted in mid‐August, corresponding to specific mean cross‐sectional flow velocities ranging from 0.30 to 0.63 m/s. Fish were individually introduced to the culvert and their movements recorded with a camera located above the water. Lateral and longitudinal positions were recorded at a rate of 3 Hz in order to identify ascent paths. These positions were related to the distribution of flow depths and velocities in the culvert. Brook trout selected flow velocities from 0.2 to 0.5 m/s during their ascents, which corresponded to the available flow velocities in the culvert at the low‐flow conditions. This however resulted in the use of low‐velocity zones at higher flows, mainly located along the walls of the culvert. Some fish also used the corrugations for sheltering, although the behaviour was marginal and did not occur at the highest flow condition. This study improves knowledge on fish behaviour during culvert ascents, which is an important aspect for developing reliable and accurate estimates of fish passage ability.

Publication Year 2017
Title Swimming behaviour and ascent paths of brook trout in a corrugated culvert
DOI 10.1002/rra.3187
Authors Elsa Goerig, Normand E. Bergeron, Theodore R. Castro-Santos
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title River Research and Applications
Index ID 70196421
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Leetown Science Center