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A new method to identify the fluvial regimes used by spawning salmonids

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Basin physiography and fluvial processes structure the availability of salmonid spawning habitat in river networks. However, methods that allow us to explicitly link hydrologic and geomorphic processes to spatial patterns of spawning at scales relevant to management are limited. Here we present a method that can be used to link the abundance of spawning salmonids to fluvial processes at the mesoscale. We show that the frequency of spawning activity at individual morphological units (riffles, pools, runs) is quantitatively related to a number of fluvial parameters. Of these, bankfull excess shear stress (xs) was the best predictor of spawning frequency. Results suggest that xs can be used to represent the fluvial regimes that spawning salmon are responsive to as well as to assess the likely impacts of altered flow regimes.

La physiographie du bassin et les processus fluviaux sont responsables de la disponibilité de l’habitat de fraie des salmonidés dans les réseaux de rivières. Il y a cependant peu de méthodes qui permettent de relier explicitement les processus hydrologiques et géomorphiques aux patrons spatiaux de la fraie à des échelles qui sont pertinentes à la gestion. Nous présentons ici une méthode qui peut servir à relier l’abondance de salmonidés en fraie aux processus fluviaux à une échelle moyenne. Nous démontrons que la fréquence de l’activité de fraie dans des unités morphologiques particulières (les rapides, fosses et coulées) est associée quantitativement à un certain nombre de variables fluviales. Parmi celles-ci, la contrainte de cisaillement en excès à pleins bords (xs) est la meilleure variable prédictive de la fréquence de fraie. Nos résultats indiquent que xs peut servir à représenter les régimes fluviaux auxquels les saumons réagissent, ainsi qu’à évaluer les impacts probables des modifications des régimes d’écoulement.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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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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