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Keywords:

  • Trout Regulation;
  • Population structure;
  • Longterm effects

Abstract

During the last 70 years, the Norwegian lake Mjøsa and its inflowing rivers have been subjected to serious changes due to hydroelectric power development. Regulation of the main inlet river, Gudbrandsdalslagen, started in 1919. The river power station at the Hunder fall was completed in 1964. This resulted in a reduction of winter water flow below the Hunder dam from approximately 26m3s−1 to 2m3s−1, which affected the most important spawning area of the fast-growing population of brown trout, Salmo trutta L. The population was investigated in detail in 1907, 1909, 1961, and 1985, and river growth, smolt age, and growth in Lake Mjøsa are compared. Only wild fish were included in the study. The main pattern throughout this period shows an increased river growth rate before smoltification and reduced smolt age. The average smolt age dropped from 4.7 years in 1909 to 4.1 years in 1985, and at the same time smolt size decreased from 26.8 cm to 25.1 cm. Considering the major changes in abiotic factors in the river spawning section, the changes in age structure and growth of brown trout smolt are comparatively small.

In Lake Mjøsa, increased productivity due to input of nutrients has obviously favoured forage fish such as smelt (Osmerus eperlanus (L.)) and vendace (Coregonus albula (L.)). The growth rate of brown trout in the lake has improved from 1909 to 1961 and 1985, followed by a reduced spawning age. However, due to increased human exploitation the average length of ascending fish (approximately 68 cm) and condition factor ( K = 1.14–1.16) have altered little.