Discharge and hydraulic interactions in contrasting channel morphologies and their influences on site utilisation by spawning Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)

Hamish J. Moir, Chris N. Gibbins, Chris Soulsby, John H. Webb

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Six study sites were selected to represent the range of channel morphologies, extending from dynamic pool-riffle to transitional step-pool/plane bed reach types, used by spawning Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in a small upland Scottish stream. The hydraulic functioning of reaches over the range of discharges used by spawning fish was characterized, and the influence of hydraulic heterogeneity and rates of change in discharge on the frequency of spawning was assessed. Relationships between discharge and depths and velocities differed significantly between sites; thus, hydraulic responses to changes in discharge were different. The range of discharges used for spawning differed between sites, although optimum discharges were similar. Integration of hydraulic information with microhabitat suitability predicted that spawning conditions should occur at discharges higher than those utilized by fish. There was no evidence that hydraulically heterogeneous sites were used more frequently than homogeneous ones. Rather, data suggest that the frequency of utilization of sites was governed principally by the availability of suitable sediment. Flow stability was important for spawning, with periods of rapidly varying discharge avoided. It is suggested that the rate of change in discharge should be considered more explicitly when assessing environmental flow needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2567-2585
Number of pages19
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006



  • electivity indexes
  • brown trout
  • habitat assessment
  • upland stream
  • brook trout
  • river
  • requirements
  • selection
  • geometry
  • availability

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