Background: Fish entrainment through turbine intakes is one of the major issues for operators of hydropower facilities because it causes injury and/or mortality and adversely affects population abundance. Entrainment reduction strategies have been developed based on the behavior of downstream migrating fishes, particularly diadromous species. However, knowledge of the behavior of migratory fishes has very limited application for reducing the entrainment of resident fishes, including several species that represent important recreational and aboriginal fishery resources in reservoirs. In this study, we used fine-scale acoustic telemetry and state-space modeling to investigate behavioral attributes associated with entrainment risk of resident adult bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in a large hydropower reservoir in British Columbia, Canada. Results: We found that adult bull trout resided longer in the vicinity of the powerhouse and moved closer to the turbine intakes in the fall and particularly in the winter. Bull trout were more likely to engage in exploratory behavior (characteristic of foraging or reduced activity) during periods when their body temperature was lower or higher than 6°C. We also detected diel changes in behavioral attributes, with bull trout distance to intakes and probability of exploratory behavior slightly increasing at night. Conclusions: We hypothesize that the exploratory behavior in the forebay is associated with foraging for kokanee (nonanadromous form of Oncorhynchus nerka), which have been shown to congregate near the dams of hydropower reservoirs in the winter. Our study findings should be applicable to bull trout populations residing in other reservoirs and indicate that entrainment mitigation (for example, use of deterrent devices) should be focused on the fall and winter. This work also provides a framework for combining acoustic telemetry and state-space models to understand and categorize movement behavior of fish in reservoirs and, more generally, in any environment with fluctuating water levels.
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- Acoustic telemetry
- Behavioral ecology
- Bull trout
- Code division multiple access
- Movement ecology
- State-space model
- Turbine entrainment