Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 76, Issue 2, pp 231–241 | Cite as

Effectiveness of pulse flows in a regulated river for inducing upstream movement of an imperiled stock of Chinook salmon

  • Caleb T. HaslerEmail author
  • Esther Guimond
  • Brent Mossop
  • Scott G. Hinch
  • Steven J. Cooke
Research Article


We assessed the effectiveness of pulse flows in facilitating the upstream migration of an imperiled summer-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) stock in the Puntledge River, BC, Canada. During July and August, over 3 years, we tracked radio-tagged fish (n = 100) in a reach of the Puntledge River where water is diverted for power generation, resulting in stable low flows that are believed to impede migration. Over the course of  13 pulse flows, we measured migration rate, passage rate at natural barriers that are difficult to pass during low flows, movement away from the turbine outlet pool that creates distracting flows, and locomotor activity. Mean river flow during the peak of the pulses varied from 12.1 to 42.5 m3 s−1 and was at least 6.1 m3 s−1 above residual base flows. Typically, the pulse flows lasted 48 h. Migration rate was higher during some pulse flows, but results varied among pulses. Passage at natural barriers was only higher during an abnormal pulse where flows reached twice that of the prescribed flow (i.e., 24+ m3 s−1). Some fish moved away from the turbine outlet pool during pulse flows. Pulse flows did not affect fish activity levels, as measured by electromyogram telemetry. Although the effect of pulsed flows on the migration of the Puntledge River summer-run Chinook salmon was unclear, no negative impacts, such as hyperactivity or downstream displacement were observed. The use of pulse flows as a management tool still requires further research.


Artificial freshets Oncorhynchus spp. Chinook salmon Hydropower Migration Fish telemetry 



The authors would like to thank all of the field assistants (especially Rana Sunder, Samantha Wilson, Mark Taylor, Cody Dey, Mike Donaldson, and Charles Hatry), Puntledge Hatchery staff (DFO), John Taylor, and BC Hydro staff that provided support for this project. Funding was provided by BC Hydro. CTH was funded by an Alexander Graham Bell Canadian Graduate Scholarship and SJC is supported by the Canada Research Chairs program and NSERC.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caleb T. Hasler
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Esther Guimond
    • 2
  • Brent Mossop
    • 3
  • Scott G. Hinch
    • 4
  • Steven J. Cooke
    • 1
  1. 1.Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Institute of Environmental ScienceCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Guimond Environmental ConsultingCourtenayCanada
  3. 3.BC HydroBurnabyCanada
  4. 4.Department of Forest Sciences, Centre for Applied Conservation ResearchUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  5. 5.Dillon Consulting LimitedOttawaCanada

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