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Development and implementation of a modelling tool to investigate how freshwater ecosystems (e.g. temperature, hydrology, land-use practices) influence wild Atlantic salmon populations

Recipient: Institut national de la recherche scientifique (St-Hilaire)
Approved Amount: $47,884 for 2022 (2nd year of a 3-year project; Total: $143,652)   Year Approved: 2022

Over the last 30 years, Atlantic salmon abundance has generally decreased. Mortalities at sea are known to be an important factor contributing to this decline. However, adverse freshwater habitat conditions may carry-over and contribute to poor marine survival. It has been recognized that two key variables that define freshwater habitat conditions are flow and temperature. Although some data records of these variables exist for few Atlantic salmon rivers, they are often incomplete and do note span a sufficient spatial and temporal range to provide insightful information on the habitat conditions experienced by salmon juveniles prior to their migration at sea. This project is a complement to the ongoing efforts of the Atlantic Salmon Research Joint Venture (ASRJV). It aims at developing and implementing a model that will 1) simulate historical flows and water temperature on index rivers identified by the ASRJV, with some, few or no historical data; 2) expand the modelling effort to a large (up to 20) number of Atlantic salmon rivers; and 3) generate future scenarios of Atlantic salmon freshwater habitat conditions in the context of climate change. A complementary objective is to interact with Atlantic Salmon Research Joint Venture partners to couple historical biological data (e.g. historical smolt run counts) with environmental conditions simulated with our model in order to fully characterize stressful conditions for pre-smolt salmon.

Contact:

Monsieur Andre St-Hilaire     andre.st-hilaire@ete.inrs.ca     418 654 3703