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Biological effectiveness of an inexpensive nature-like fishway for passage of warmwater fish in a small Ontario stream

Authors

  • S. Marina Steffensen,

    1. Institute of Environmental Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
    2. Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
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  • Jason D. Thiem,

    Corresponding author
    1. Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
    • Institute of Environmental Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
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  • Keith M. Stamplecoskie,

    1. Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
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  • Thomas R. Binder,

    1. Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
    2. Great Lakes Fishery Commission, United States Geological Survey Hammond Bay Biological Station, Millersburg, MI, USA
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  • Charles Hatry,

    1. Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
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  • Naomi Langlois-Anderson,

    1. Environmental Services, South Nation Conservation Authority, Finch, ON, Canada
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  • Steven J. Cooke

    1. Institute of Environmental Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
    2. Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada
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Correspondence: J. D. Thiem, Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6, Canada. E-mail: jdthiem@gmail.com

Abstract

Few studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of nature-like fishways, particularly in low gradient warmwater streams with diverse fish communities. We evaluated a nature-like fishway that was installed to facilitate upstream passage at a low head dam on Indian Creek near Spencerville, Ontario, Canada. A passive integrated transponder (PIT) array was used to quantify attraction and passage efficiency for 391 PIT tagged warmwater fish, represented by seven species. Attraction efficiency for the three most common species, common shiner (Luxilus cornutus), creek chub (Semotilus atromaculatus) and white sucker (Catostomus commersonii), was 63.3%, 83.7% and 65.6%, respectively, and passage efficiencies were 5.1%, 38.4% and 25%, respectively. Creek chub were able to locate the fishway in less time than white sucker and common shiner; however, took longer to successfully pass. Manipulation of creek chub release locations was used to separate issues of attraction and passage and revealed that passage efficiency was highest (76.2%) for those released within the fishway and intermediate for those released at the entrance (42.1%). This multispecies fishway improved stream connectivity, but additional work is needed to fine tune its configuration. Similar projects that engage stakeholders in nature-like fishway construction are a promising approach for the thousands of small dams that occur on low gradient streams around the globe, but those studies should incorporate a biological evaluation to ensure that attraction and passage efficiency are optimised.

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