• Chinese sturgeon;
  • spawning ground;
  • turbulent kinetic energy;
  • ecological behaviour;
  • Yangtze River


Hydrodynamic flow fields affect the ecological processes such as the water diversity and the distribution of organisms. Understanding the hydrodynamic and ecological processes is critical for the restoration and protection of especially fragile ecological habitats in river systems. This study uses turbulent flow to characterize the ecological behaviour of Chinese Sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis) in the Yangtze River. The Delft3D-Flow model, which is first validated with field-measured data, is used to simulate the flow field within spawning habitats of Chinese Sturgeon, downstream of Gezhouba Dam. The model-simulated turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) and its distribution pattern are then used to characterize the hydraulic environment of the fish's spawning habitat. For the spawning habitat, downstream of Gezhouba Dam, the lower limit of TKE for the Chinese Sturgeon egg mass field is 0.025 m2/s2, which occurs at a velocity less than 1.7 m/s. Chinese Sturgeon prefers habitats with TKE range of 0.010 ~ 0.015 m2/s2 for resting. This suggests that discharge regimes provide the basis for ecological regulation of the Three Gorges Reservoir and the scientific reference for river management. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.