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Location: Fraser River Basin, Interior Fraser River
To find out about work on this project in other years, follow the search link above and enter the keywords "groundwater habitat interaction" (including the quotes)
Four different First Nations groups*, in collaboration with DFO and Watershed Watch Salmon Society, are providing a coordinated, science-based approach to confirm juvenile Interior Fraser Coho salmon use of groundwater upwelling areas during summer months as thermal refuge. This project is a continuation of a pilot project initiated in 2007.
The study area includes 6 streams throughout the Interior Fraser including: McKinley Creek, Coldwater River, Deadman River, Louis Creek, Salmon River system, and the Bessette River system. In 2007, study sites were selected using thermal imaging data (source: DFO) combined with field verification. Each study site contains areas with and without groundwater influence; areas without groundwater influence will be located upstream of the groundwater source and will act as the control site.
The field study will commence in June and end in September. In June, temperature loggers will be installed at each of the study sites to record hourly stream temperature data for the duration of the study. Standardized snorkel surveys will be conducted to record the presence/absence of all fish, fish behavior, and habitat use. Snorkels will occur every 2 weeks from July - September to document the time and stream temperatures at which fish: cease normal territorial day time behavior and use groundwater thermal refuge; resume their territorial day time behavior; and ideally observe night time temperatures that cause fish to remain in the refugia. During each 24-hour snorkel survey period, a number of predetermined sites will be surveyed per 12-hour shift, with those sites being repeated until the end of each 12-hour shift. Baseline habitat assessment data will also be collected at each of the snorkel sites as well as photo documentation.
This project will identify if clear patterns of groundwater habitat use by juvenile Interior Fraser Coho exist and, if so, will serve to solidify the importance of groundwater upwelling areas and the need for their protection.
The final report for this project is posted in the orange resource box to the right.