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Emergence timing and subsequent downstream movements of two non-native salmonids in a Lake Superior tributary

Hintz, William D., Lonzarich, David G.
Journal of Great Lakes research 2012 v.38 no.2 pp. 309-316
Oncorhynchus kisutch, Salmo trutta, fish fry, floods, habitats, objectives, population, spring, streams, Great Lakes region, Lake Superior, North America
We describe patterns of emergence and downstream movement by recently emerged fry of two non-native salmonids in the Great Lakes region, North America. Our primary objectives were to describe the timing of emergence in relation to spring flooding, and to examine the effects of reach-level complexity of stream habitat on rates of movement. Emergence and movement patterns of coho salmon and brown trout fry were assessed over an eight-week period in two reaches distinguished by differences in channel woody debris. Fry emergence occurred from mid-March to early May, and peaked in early to mid-April. Movement during this period was uncorrelated with upstream densities of resident fry and fish moving downstream did not appear moribund or in poor condition. Nearly twice as many fish moved through the simple reach that lacked woody debris cover even though upstream densities of resident fry were generally greater in the complex reach. The results reported here indicate that peak emergence occurs in close association with the timing of spring floods. Variability in the timing of either emergence or spring floods could have profound effects on the size of coho salmon and brown trout populations within streams of this region. Results from this study further suggest that greater habitat complexity may reduce downstream movements of newly emerged salmonid fry in a natural system.