Fish movement patterns and habitat suitability in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic site
LE3 .A278 2018
Bachelor of Science
Aquatic connectivity is vital to the health of fish populations. Brook Trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, have specific connectivity and habitat needs due to physiological limitations including cooler water temperatures and specific breeding site requirements. Parks Canada is currently considering a plan to construct a physical barrier to limit the inevitable spread of Smallmouth Bass, Micropterus dolomieu, and Chain Pickerel, Esox niger in Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site. When invasive populations invade and become established they have significant negative effects on abundance and diversity of native fish species. These alien invasive species are not currently within the park; however, they are present in the greater Mersey River watershed that runs through the park. The Peskowesk sub-watershed of the Mersey River is the ideal barrier site to prevent invasion. Therefore, to improve our understanding of movements through this site, 233 fishes were tagged in the Peskowesk sub-watershed with passive integrated transponder tags and movement near the proposed barrier site was recorded using multi-antenna readers. Brook Trout were detected with specific individuals spending multiple days near the Peskowesk Brook antenna array, no detections were recorded on the Cobrielle Brook array. Temperature and dissolved oxygen profiles were recorded to assess summer season cold-water refugia and allow comparison with historical data from 1971 and 2005. Habitat suitability indicated a decline in the cold-water refugia in the 2018 monitoring period. Initial analysis of historical tagging data (2002–2015) have shown that the number of captures show variation across time and site, it is difficult to interpret this result without an improved understanding of angler effort. Increased knowledge of habitat suitability and movement patterns are critical to the decision-making process for potential barrier construction and provide preliminary information for subsequent aquatic monitoring activities.
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