High resolution temperature monitoring for Atlantic salmon habitat on Terra Nova River
Evidence is growing that rivers in FABEC’s area are warming because of climate change, adversely impacting salmon and trout populations and habitat. Years with lower-than-normal water levels and higher temperatures are increasing in frequency limiting upstream fish movement and higher mortality among juvenile salmon due to diminished summer food supply and vulnerability to predation.
This two-year project will develop a high-resolution profile of water temperature and level conditions in the Terra Nova River watershed. Temperature data loggers will be placed in forty selected locations along the river’s main stem and tributaries to measure variations over the spring to fall period. Water level loggers will be placed at two selected points. A few temperature loggers will also be placed on nearby Gambo River and Middle Brook. This will help to identify locations where water conditions constitute a threat to salmon survival and migration as well as areas of cooler and deeper water that provide refuge against inhospitable conditions or may offer opportunities to enhance or create refuge sanctuaries.
This information will be valuable for informing tangible restoration actions to mitigate the impacts of warming temperatures and improve connectivity. It will identify locations where interventions will help improve migratory paths and protect and enhance important refuge areas, for example, expanding forest buffers to maintain shading and slow the rate of snowmelt near cold water sources entering the river. The project will include an aerial video survey of the watershed during the dry period to identify low water obstructions to salmon passage. Collected data will be compiled in a spatial data base using GIS technology. The project will be undertaken by a staff of two with volunteer help by FABEC members. Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Terra Nova National Park have offered in-kind support. DFO will assist with training, technical, and analytical support and the loan of some data loggers. The Park will provide up to eight hours of helicopter time. A GIS consultant will develop the geographic database. The two staff will fill out their time with ground-level fieldwork to assess identified obstructions, other problem areas, and aquatic and terrestrial conditions in the vicinity of cold water sources entering the river.
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