Migration delays caused by anthropogenic barriers: Modeling dams, temperature, and success of migrating salmon smolts

Ecological Applications
By: , and 



Disruption to migration is a growing problem for conservation and restoration of animal populations. Anthropogenic barriers along migration paths can delay or prolong migrations, which may result in a mismatch with migration-timing adaptations. To understand the interaction of dams (as barriers along a migration path), seasonally changing environmental conditions, timing of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) downstream migration, and ultimate migration success, we used 10 years of river temperature and discharge data as a template upon which we simulated downstream movement of salmon. Atlantic salmon is a cool-water species whose downstream migrating smolts must complete migration before river temperatures become too warm. We found that dams had a local effect on survival as well as a survival effect that was spatially and temporally removed from the encounter with the dam. While smolts are delayed by dams, temperatures downstream can reach lethal or near-lethal temperatures;as a result, the match between completion of migration and the window of appropriate migration conditions can be disrupted. The strength of this spatially and temporally removed effect is at least comparable to the local effects of dams in determining smolt migration success in the presence of dams. We also considered smolts from different tributaries, varying in distance from the river mouth, to assess the potential importance of locally adapted migration timing on the effect of barriers. Migration-initiation temperature affected modeled smolt survival differentially across tributaries, with the success of smolts from upstream tributaries being much more variable across years than that of smolts with a shorter distance to travel. As a whole, these results point to the importance of broadening our spatial and temporal view when managing migrating populations. We must consider not only how many individuals never make it across migration barriers, but also the spatially and temporally removed consequences of delays at the barriers for those individuals that successfully navigate them. ??2011 by the Ecological Society of America.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Migration delays caused by anthropogenic barriers: Modeling dams, temperature, and success of migrating salmon smolts
Series title Ecological Applications
DOI 10.1890/10-0593.1
Volume 21
Issue 8
Year Published 2011
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Ecological Applications
First page 3014
Last page 3031
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