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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Bubble barriers to guide downstream migrating Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar): An evaluation using acoustic telemetry

Leander, J.; Klaminder, J.; Hellstrom, G.; Jonsson, M.


Structures for guiding fish around migration barriers are frequently used for maintaining connectivity in regulated riverine systems. However, for non-physical barriers, experimental studies providing direct and detailed observations of fish-barrier interactions in rivers are largely lacking. In this study, we quantify the efficiency of bubble barriers (alone or in combination with light stimuli, and in both daylight and darkness) for diverting downstream migrating Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Both a laboratory-based migration experiment and a largescale field experiment in a regulated river were used to evaluate efficiency of bubble barriers. In the latter, we used acoustic telemetry to provide in situ measurements of how downstream migrating Atlantic salmon smolts interact with bubble barriers. We show that bubbles divert smolts with high efficiency in both a laboratory flume (95%) and in natural settings (90%). This latter efficiency is higher compared to an already present physical barrier (46%) covering the upper two meters of the water column in the large river. The bubble barrier did not affect flume migration in darkness, suggesting that visual cues are crucial for the observed repelling effect of bubbles. We conclude that bubble barriers can be effective, largely maintenance free and low-cost alternatives to physical structures currently used to divert salmon away from high-mortality passages.


Fish migration; Fish passage; Non-physical barrier; Hydropower; Acoustic telemetry; Atlantic salmon; Bubble curtain; Fishway

Published in

Ecological Engineering
2021, Volume: 160, article number: 106141
Publisher: ELSEVIER