Determining the best Location for a Nature-like Fishway in Gavle River, Sweden

The construction of dams and hydro-power stations are some of the most common anthropogenic changes of watercourses and rivers. While being important to humans and society by providing electricity, these obstructions of watercourses can have severe consequences for the aquatic ecosystems.

One consequence is that dams often hinder the important movement of migrating fish species between habitats. This can lead to decline and even extinction of important fish populations. To prevent these negative effects, a number of different fish passage systems, including nature-like fishways, have been developed. Nature-like fishways mimic natural streams in order to function as a natural corridor for a wide range of species.

Planning and construction of a nature-like fishway is a complex task that often involves many different interests. In the present study a combination of multi-criteria decision analysis and least-cost path analysis is used for determining the best location for a nature-like fishway past Strömdalen dam in Gavleån, Sweden.

An anisotropic least-cost path algorithm is applied on a friction-layer and a digital elevation model, and the least-cost path for a nature-like fishway is determined. The results show that the method is useful in areas of varying topography and steep slopes.

However, because low slope is a very important factor when constructing a nature-like fishway, slope becomes the dominating factor in this analysis at the expense of e.g. distance to roads. Combining the methods with results from biological studies of fish behavior and detailed hydrological modelling would provide a very strong tool for the planning of nature-like fishways.
Source: University of Gävle
Author: Buck, Sine

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