Ecology and movement of juvenile salmonids in beaver-influenced and beaver-free tributaries in the Trøndelag province of Norway

Rachel L. Malison, Duncan J. Halley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

There is concern that expanding beaver (Castor fiber) populations will negatively impact the important economic, recreational and ecological resources of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and sea trout (Salmo trutta) populations in Europe. We studied how beaver dams influenced habitat, food resources, growth and movement of juvenile Atlantic salmon and trout on three paired beaver-dammed and beaver-free (control) tributaries of important salmon rivers in central Norway. Lotic reaches of beaver-dammed and control sites were similar in habitat and benthic prey abundance, and ponds were small (<3,000 m2). Though few juvenile salmonids were detected in ponds, trout and salmon were present in habitats below and above ponds (comprising 9%–31% and 0%–57% of the fish collected respectively). Trout dominated control sites (79%–99%), but the greatest proportion of Atlantic salmon were upstream of beaver ponds (0%–57%). Growth rates were highly variable, with no differences in growth between lotic reaches of beaver-dammed and control sites. The condition and densities of juvenile salmon and trout were similar in lotic reaches of beaver-dammed and control sites, though one beaver-dammed site with fine sediment had very few juvenile salmonids. Beaver dams did not block the movement of juvenile salmonids or their ability to use upstream habitats. However, the degree of repeated movements and the overall proportion of fish moving varied between beaver-dammed and control sites. The small scale of habitat alteration and the fact that fish were able to move past dams makes it unlikely that beaver dams negatively impact the juvenile stage of salmon or trout populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-639
Number of pages17
JournalEcology of Freshwater Fish
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Keywords

  • Atlantic salmon
  • beaver ponds
  • Eurasian beaver
  • rearing habitat
  • salmonid movement
  • trout

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