UI Biologist Heads Summer Research to Increase Salmon, Trout and Lamprey

Tuesday, June 25 2013


MOSCOW, Idaho — In an effort to boost stocks of steelhead trout, Chinook salmon and Pacific lamprey, a team of University of Idaho researchers will begin a three-faceted study in the coming months. A $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is supporting the work.

Co-investigator Christopher Caudill is an assistant professor in the department of fish and wildlife sciences in Moscow. He said three related studies will be conducted on the Federal Columbia River Power System, the Snake River and on the Willamette River, all of which are affected by dams.

The projects, which fall under a federal program launched in 1997, will include a blend of engineering ingenuity, fish telemetry and underwater acoustic camera monitors. Fieldwork will be conducted this summer with analyses and preliminary findings to be published in 2014.

Researchers will:

• Evaluate the effectiveness of fish ladders designed and built specifically for Pacific lamprey, an important native fish species. These lamprey passage systems were designed in collaboration with NOAA-Fisheries, USACE and UI CNR graduate students. They were installed last winter at the Bonneville and John Day dams. This study aims to increase successful lamprey migrations through passageways at hydroelectric power plants on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

• Radio-tag and monitor salmon and steelhead at lower Columbia and Snake river dams. Data gathered through radio telemetry and underwater acoustical monitors will help scientists determine how modification to dams affect passage and fates of the adult fish throughout the Federal Columbia River Power System.

• Catch, tag and release Chinook salmon to determine migration patterns and pre-spawn mortality rates within the Willamette River Valley’s numerous subbasins with dams. Currently, many adult salmon reach spawning grounds, but perish prior to reproducing for unknown reasons, potentially limiting productivity.

“We’ll be looking at the effectiveness of the lamprey passage system, which begins with an entrance for migratory lamprey and salmon below Bonneville Dam,” Caudill said.

If successful, dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers may install fish ladders in the new design, which may significantly increase populations of native fish populations that are so important to the heritage and culture of Americans, beginning with the region’s indigenous Indian tribes. Similarly, the salmon studies will contribute to regional salmon recovery efforts currently underway by regional, federal, state and tribal agencies.

Additional participants include: the UI Echohydraulics Research Laboratory in Boise, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Oregon State University’s Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.
# # #

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho inspires students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Big Sky Conference. Through the university’s $225 million Inspiring Futures capital campaign, private giving will enhance student learning, faculty research and innovation, and a spirit of enterprise. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.



About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.