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Effects of silt and very fine sand dynamics in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) redds on embryo hatching success

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We conducted a 2-year field experiment examining the survival to hatching of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in relation to the seasonal and spatial variations of silt and very fine sand (SVFS; <0.125 mm) content within a large set of artificial redds at two spawning sites of the Sainte-Marguerite River, Quebec, Canada. Each artificial redd consisted of an infiltration cube (30 cm × 30 cm × 20 cm) buried in a morpho-sedimentological unit resembling a salmon redd. One hundred fertilized Atlantic salmon eggs were inserted in a number of infiltration cubes during redd construction. The results indicate no significant relation between survival to hatching in spring and values of the sand index or total percent fine sediment <2 mm in redds at that time. However, the proportion of SVFS in the redds explained 83% of the variation in embryo survival, with a threshold at approximately 0.2% SVFS, above which survival dropped sharply below 50%. Infiltration of these very fine fractions mostly occurred under ice cover, during the low-flow winter period. However, during the spring flood period, infiltration-flushing patterns varied spatially and reflected spatial differences in local intensity of bed-load transport and fine sediment availability.

Une expérience de terrain de deux ans nous a permis d'examiner la survie jusqu'à l'éclosion de saumons atlantiques (Salmo salar) en fonction des variations saisonnières et spatiales des quantités de limon et de sable très fin (SVFS, <0,125 mm) dans un important réseau de nids artificiels à deux sites de reproduction de la rivière Sainte-Marguerite, Québec, Canada. Chaque nid artificiel consiste en un cube d'infiltration (30 cm × 30 cm × 20 cm) enfoui dans une unité morpho-sédimentologique ressemblant à un nid de saumon. Nous avons introduit cent oeufs fécondés de saumon atlantique dans plusieurs des cubes d'infiltration durant la construction des nids. Nos résultats indiquent qu'il n'y a pas de relation significative entre la survie jusqu'à l'éclosion au printemps et les valeurs de l'indice de sable, ni avec le pourcentage total de sédiments fins <2 mm dans les nids à ce moment. Cependant, la proportion de limon et de SVFS dans les nids explique 83 % de la variation de la survie des embryons, avec un seuil d'environ 0,2 % de SVFS au-dessus duquel la survie tombe rapidement sous 50 %. L'infiltration de ces fractions très fines se fait surtout sous la glace durant la période d'étiage d'hiver. Cependant, durant la période de crue printanière, les patrons d'infiltration et de curage varient d'un endroit à l'autre en fonction des différences spatiales de l'intensité de la charge de fond transportée et de la disponibilité des sédiments fins.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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