Abstract Fish stranding is of global concern with increasing hydropower operations using hydropeaking to respond to fluctuating energy demand. Determining the effects hydropeaking has on fish communities is challenging because fish stranding is dependent on riverscape features, such as topography, bathymetry and substrate. By using a combination of physical habitat assessments, hydrodynamic modelling and empirical data on fish stranding, we estimated the number of fish stranding over a 5‐month period for three model years in a large Prairie river. More specifically, we modelled how many fish potentially stranded during the years 2019, 2020 and 2021 across a 16 km study reached downstream from E.B. Campbell Hydroelectric Station on the Saskatchewan River, Canada. Fish stranding densities calculated from data collected through remote photography and transect monitoring in 2021 were applied to the daily area subject to drying determined by the River2D hydrodynamic model. The cumulative area subject to change was 90.05, 53.02 and 80.74 km 2 for years 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively, from June to October. The highest number of stranded fish was estimated for the year 2021, where estimates ranged from 89,800 to 1,638,000 individuals based on remote photography and transect monitoring fish stranding densities, respectively, 157 to 2,856 fish stranded per hectare. Our approach of estimating fish stranding on a large scale allows for a greater understanding of the impact hydropeaking has on fish communities and can be applied to other riverscapes threatened by hydropeaking.
With the continuous development of hydropower on a global scale, stranding of freshwater fishes is of growing concern, and an understanding of the mechanisms and variables affecting fish stranding in hydropeaking rivers is urgently needed. In particular, a methodology is required to identify the magnitude and timing at which fish stranding occurs in relation to environmental conditions. Here, we studied fish stranding in three reaches downstream of a hydropeaking generation station in the Saskatchewan River, Saskatchewan, Canada, using an innovative remote photography approach with 45 trail cameras and traditional transect monitoring, conducting 323 transects. We observed that juvenile sport and commercial fish species are stranding at a higher proportion than small bodied fish species. The remote photography approach provided more precise fish stranding timing and associated the environmental and physical conditions with a given stranding event, but captured fewer fish and only rarely allowed species identification. The comparison of the two methodologies resulted in similar stranded fish densities, but the remote photography allowed for continuous observations whereas the transect monitoring was limited by the observer availability in the field. Remote photography allowed for additional information on the scavenging of stranded fish, with scavenging occurring on average within 240 minutes of the fish being stranded. The probability of fish stranding increased significantly with increasing water temperature and substrate particle size resulted in greater stranding on finer substrates. Our findings have important implications for hydroelectric flow management by introducing an innovative, standardized method to study the effects of hydropeaking events on fish stranding that can be applied to increase our understanding of the impacts of hydropeaking on fish communities.
Like many amphibians, wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) populations have likely declined or experienced local extirpations as a result of habitat alterations. Despite this, wood frogs are still present and breeding in altered landscapes, like the agricultural Prairie Pothole Region of central Canada, and are exposed to a variety of anthropogenic impacts. As tadpoles, water contamination can have negative effects on growth, development, and immune systems. To investigate the potential effects of agricultural land use on tadpole growth and immune system stress, we used boosted regression trees to model body mass, body condition, and neutrophil to lymphocyte ratios, a measure of immune stress, against 32 variables including water quality, wetland habitat, and landscape-level measures. Developmental stage strongly influenced all 3 endpoints, and body mass was negatively influenced by higher levels of total dissolved solids (>600-700 mg/L) and at the first sign of pesticide detection (>0.01 proportion pesticides detected of those screened). While correlative, these data suggest that tadpoles developing in agricultural environments may experience survival and reproductive disadvantages if they metamorphose at smaller body sizes. Given the potential impacts this can have on adult frogs and frog populations, these results provide an impetus for further field-based investigation into the effects that pesticides, and especially total dissolved solids, may have on tadpoles. Environ Toxicol Chem 2021;40:2269-2281. © 2021 The Authors. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of SETAC.
Abstract In the Oil Sands Regions of Alberta, Canada, Indigenous reassertion of rights and responsibilities has lead to a renewed leadership in monitoring the effects of industries on various environment receptors. This study, conducted with Cold Lake First Nations, Alberta (CLFN), sought to explore local concerns regarding fish consumption safety and population health in response to multiple anthropogenic stressors focusing upon oil extraction. We undertook this work using a novel research design comprised of two distinct approaches including a participatory fish health and toxicology study and a cultural consensus survey of CLFN members. The cultural consensus study assessed similarities and differences in knowledge and perceptions of CLFN members. The fish toxicology and health research involved implementing a co-designed protocol to collect and sample fish for toxicants and overall population health using scientific indicators. We discuss the results of each study as well as the tangible application of our work in achieving a Multiple Evidence Base approach. Our work highlights that complementarities between our studies as part of a negotiated research process can form a single cohesive narrative to better inform fisheries management while respecting community knowledge, culture and rights to access land, water and country foods.
Peaking hydroelectric facilities release water from dams to match energy production with demand, often on a daily cycle. These fluctuating flows downstream can exert several potential stressors on organisms that may inhibit their growth, indirectly causing higher contaminant concentrations through reduced growth dilution. We collected spottail shiner (Notropis hudsonius) at two sites upstream and two sites downstream of a peaking hydroelectric dam in east‐central Saskatchewan, Canada, and compared their body condition, triglyceride concentrations, and mercury concentrations. Condition decline was observed in one of two downstream sites from August to September, and the lowest triglyceride concentrations were consistently found downstream of the dam where hydropeaking had the most perceptible effects on the shoreline. Mercury concentrations were significantly greater at both downstream sites relative to upstream. Despite these results, inconsistencies in response parameters across sites and time limited our ability to isolate the effects of hydropeaking as a causative agent and suggest indirect effects such as shifts in algal and macroinvertebrate communities may be responsible for our observations. These results suggest that hydroelectric power generation may indirectly increase mercury concentrations in downstream fish, but more research will be required to determine the specific mechanisms by which this occurs. The results and data also provide useful insights into the physiology of wild spottail shiner populations, which can help to inform the development of these fish as a North American sentinel species.
• Concentrations of PAHs in muscle suggests continued exposure to the residual spilled oil. • Identity of the host species was the dominant driver in shaping the gut microbiome of fish. • Structures of gut microbiomes were correlated with concentrations of PAHs in muscle in walleye. In July 2016, a Husky Energy pipeline spilled 225,000 L of diluted heavy crude oil, with a portion of the oil entering the North Saskatchewan River near Maidstone, SK, Canada. This event provided a unique opportunity to assess potential effects of a crude oil constituent (namely polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs) on a possible sensitive indicator of freshwater ecosystem health, the gut microbiota of native fishes. In summer 2017, goldeye ( Hiodon alosoides ), walleye ( Sander vitreus ), northern pike ( Esox lucius ), and shorthead redhorse ( Moxostoma macrolepidotum ) were collected at six locations upstream and downstream of the spill. Muscle and bile were collected from individual fish for quantification of PAHs and intestinal contents were collected for characterization of the microbial community of the gut. Results suggested that host species is a significant determinant of gut microbiota, with significant differences among the species across sites. Concentrations of PAHs in dorsal muscle were significantly correlated with gut community compositions of walleye, but not of the other fishes. Concentrations of PAHs in muscle were also correlated with abundances of several families of bacteria among fishes. This study represents one of the first to investigate the response of the gut microbiome of wild fishes to chemical stressors.
Although researchers now recognize that Indigenous knowledge can strengthen environmental planning and assessment, little research has empirically demonstrated how to bring together Indigenous know...
Understanding rivers and their social relations: A critical step to advance environmental water management
Elizabeth P. Anderson,
Rebecca E. Tharme,
Michael M. Douglas,
Joseph E. Flotemersch,
Timothy D. Jardine,
Julian D. Olden,
Jane Eleuter Kabogo,
Dirk J. Roux,
WIREs Water, Volume 6, Issue 6
River flows connect people, places, and other forms of life, inspiring and sustaining diverse cultural beliefs, values, and ways of life. The concept of environmental flows provides a framework for improving understanding of relationships between river flows and people, and for supporting those that are mutually beneficial. Nevertheless, most approaches to determining environmental flows remain grounded in the biophysical sciences. The newly revised Brisbane Declaration and Global Action Agenda on Environmental Flows (2018) represents a new phase in environmental flow science and an opportunity to better consider the co-constitution of river flows, ecosystems, and society, and to more explicitly incorporate these relationships into river management. We synthesize understanding of relationships between people and rivers as conceived under the renewed definition of environmental flows. We present case studies from Honduras, India, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia that illustrate multidisciplinary, collaborative efforts where recognizing and meeting diverse flow needs of human populations was central to establishing environmental flow recommendations. We also review a small body of literature to highlight examples of the diversity and interdependencies of human-flow relationships-such as the linkages between river flow and human well-being, spiritual needs, cultural identity, and sense of place-that are typically overlooked when environmental flows are assessed and negotiated. Finally, we call for scientists and water managers to recognize the diversity of ways of knowing, relating to, and utilizing rivers, and to place this recognition at the center of future environmental flow assessments. This article is categorized under: Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness Human Water > Water Governance Human Water > Water as Imagined and Represented.
Trophic transfer of contaminants dictates concentrations and potential toxic effects in top predators, yet biomagnification behaviour of many trace elements is poorly understood. We examined concentrations of vanadium and thallium, two globally-distributed and anthropogenically-enriched elements, in a food web of the Slave River, Northwest Territories, Canada. We found that tissue concentrations of both elements declined with increasing trophic position as measured by δ15N. Slopes of log [element] versus δ15N regressions were both negative, with a steeper slope for V (-0.369) compared with Tl (-0.099). These slopes correspond to declines of 94% with each step in the food chain for V and 54% with each step in the food chain for Tl. This biodilution behaviour for both elements meant that concentrations in fish were well below values considered to be of concern for the health of fish-eating consumers. Further study of these elements in food webs is needed to allow a fuller understanding of biomagnification patterns across a range of species and systems.
As more hydroelectric dams regulate rivers to meet growing energy demands, there is ongoing concern about downstream effects, including impacts on downstream benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) communities. Hydropeaking is a common hydroelectric practice where short‐term variation in power production leads to large and often rapid fluctuations in discharge and water level. There are key knowledge gaps on the ecosystem impacts of hydropeaking in large rivers, the seasonality of these impacts, and whether dams can be managed to lessen impacts. We assessed how patterns of hydropeaking affect abundance, taxonomic richness, and relative tolerance of BMIs in the Saskatchewan River (Saskatchewan, Canada). Reaches immediately (<2 km) downstream of the dam generally had high densities of BMIs and comparable taxonomic diversity relative to upstream locations but were characterized by lower ratios of sensitive (e.g., Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera) to tolerant (e.g., Chironomidae) taxa. The magnitude of effect varied with seasonal changes in discharge. Understanding the effects of river regulation on BMI biodiversity and river health has implications for mitigating the impacts of hydropeaking dams on downstream ecosystems. Although we demonstrated that a hydropeaking dam may contribute to a significantly different downstream BMI assemblage, we emphasize that seasonality is a key consideration. The greatest differences between upstream and downstream locations occurred in spring, suggesting standard methods of late summer and fall sampling may underestimate ecosystem‐scale impacts.
Amphibians are declining worldwide, in part because of large-scale degradation of habitat from agriculture and pervasive pathogens. Yet a common North American amphibian, the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus), ranges widely and persists in agricultural landscapes. Conventional survey techniques rely on visual encounters and dip-netting efforts, but detectability limits the ability to test for the effects of environmental variables on amphibian habitat suitability. We used environmental DNA to determine the presence of wood frogs and an amphibian pathogen (ranavirus) in Prairie Pothole wetlands and investigated the effects of 32 water quality, wetland habitat, and landscape-level variables on frog presence at sites representing different degrees of agricultural intensity. Several wetland variables influenced wood frog presence, the most influential being those associated with wetland productivity (i.e., nutrients), vegetation buffer width, and proportion of the surrounding landscape that is comprised of other water bodies. Wood frog presence was positively associated with higher dissolved phosphorus (>0.4 mg/L), moderate dissolved nitrogen (0.1-0.2 mg/L), lower chlorophyll a (≤15 µg/L), wider vegetation buffers (≥10 m), and more water on the landscape (≥0.25). These results highlight the effects of environmental factors at multiple scales on the presence of amphibians in this highly modified landscape-namely the importance of maintaining wetland water quality, vegetation buffers, and surrounding habitat heterogeneity. Environ Toxicol Chem 2019;38:2750-2763. © 2019 SETAC.