Not by a dam site

GLOUCESTER, Mass. — Federal researchers have developed a model to assess how dams affect the viability of sea-run fish species that need to pass dams as they use both fresh and marine waters during their lifetimes. The Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO) of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have partnered on this project to test how varying passage efficiency at dams related to survival rates for these species.

Using a model of endangered Atlantic salmon in the Penobscot River as a case study, NOAA researchers found that abundance, distribution and number of fish increased upstream when dams in the primary downstream segments of the river, also called “mainstem dams,” were removed or fish passage survival was increased. The findings were recently published online in the ICES “Journal of Marine Science.”

Models like this one, which analyze population viability based on a variety of biological, environmental and functional factors, can be used to predict ecological responses of fish populations. They also can provide a way to evaluate and prioritize management and restoration actions for fish that migrate between fresh and salt water.


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