The restoration of salmonids in the Elwha River following dam removal will cause interactions between anadromous and potamodromous forms as recolonization occurs in upstream and downstream directions. Anadromous salmonids are expected to recolonize historic habitats, and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) isolated above the dams for 90 years are expected to reestablish anadromy. We summarized the distribution and abundance of potamodromous salmonids, determined locations of spawning areas, and mapped natural barriers to fish migration at the watershed scale based on data collected from 1993 to 2006. Rainbow trout were far more abundant than bull trout throughout the watershed and both species were distributed up to river km 71. Spawning locations for bull trout and rainbow trout occurred in areas where we anticipate returning anadromous fish to spawn. Nonnative brook trout were confined to areas between and below the dams, and seasonal velocity barriers are expected to prevent their upstream movements. We hypothesize that the extent of interaction between potamodromous and anadromous salmonids will vary spatially due to natural barriers that will limit upstream-directed recolonization for some species of salmonids. Consequently, most competitive interactions will occur in the main stem and floodplain downstream of river km 25 and in larger tributaries. Understanding future responses of Pacific salmonids after dam removal in the Elwha River depends upon an understanding of existing conditions of the salmonid community upstream of the dams prior to dam removal.
Additional publication details
Predicting recolonization patterns and interactions between potamodromous and anadromous salmonids in response to dam removal in the Elwha River, Washington State, USA