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Eel River Steelhead Study
Authors: Mary Power
Throughout the world, historically large populations of native anadromous salmonids are in severe decline or extinct. In the United States alone, twenty-six Evolutionarily Significant Units of Pacific salmonid are currently threatened or endangered. These declines are most commonly attributed to degradation of spawning and rearing habitat resulting from increased loading of fine sediments. Although excessive loading of fine sediments into rivers is well known to degrade salmonid spawning habitat, its effects on the demographically critical rearing juveniles have been unclear. We experimentally manipulated fine bed sediment in a northern California river and examined responses of a juvenile salmonid. Increasing concentrations of deposited fine sediment decreased growth and survival of juvenile steelhead trout. These declines resulted from a shift in invertebrates toward burrowing taxa unavailable as prey and from increased steelhead activity and injury at higher levels of fine sediment. The relationship between deposited fine sediment and juvenile steelhead growth is linear. This suggests that there is no threshold below which exacerbation of fine sediment delivery and storage in gravel bedded rivers will be harmless, but also that any reduction will produce immediate benefits for salmonid restoration.
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Authors: Jeff Marr, Peter Willcock
StreamLab06 was a multiphase research endeavor involving academic researchers, federal agencies and stream restoration practitioners. This ongoing project is being conducted in the Main Channel at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory in Minneapolis, MN. The StreamLab program brings together a spectrum of research expertise (stream ecology and biology, engineering, hydrology, hydraulics and geomorphology) to conduct focused studies on a laboratory controlled, field scale, indoor stream environment.
The first phase of the StreamLab06 project was completed in late March, 2006, and was focused on testing several existing and one new technology for sampling bedload transport. Technologies were tested in separate sets of sand and gravel trials.
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