ProjectThe effects of habitat quality and density on the growth and survival of juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar): Application to population restoration.
My research project is to determine how habitat quality and density affects the growth and survival of juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). The project will be done in the Boquet River of Lake Champlain in up state New York. Salmon have been stocked into the Boquet River for a number of years but whether the habitat can support the amount of fish stocked is unknown. There also have not been any habitat assessments done to determine whether the habitat is suitable for (age 0+) Atlantic salmon. 150,000 (age 0+) salmon will be stocked into 9 streams at 15 different locations. Fish will be stocked using point and spread stocking techniques and the amount of fish stocked at each location will range from 7,500-15,000. Spread stocking will be done by spreading all fish evenly over the entire stream site area. Point stocking will be done by placing all fish in the same spot at the uppermost area of the stream site. 10 different 100m2 sections, each 100m apart, will be set up downstream along each stocking sites. Each section will be periodically monitored throughout the summer. Each 100m2 section will be snorkeled and fish will be counted and their habitat used will be marked. Each habitat used marker will be measure for habitat variables. Each habitat marker will also be counted towards total density of each section. Throughout the summer fish will be tagged and will be measured for growth and survival. Growth and survival will then be related to habitat variables and fish densities. Using this data I will be able to determine what habitat variables provide the highest amount of growth and at what density fish begin to experience density dependent growth. It will also show the dispersal ability of juvenile salmon and if stocking technique influences the amount of density dependent growth and survival. This information can then be used by fishery managers in the Boquet River to determine which stocking technique (point or spread) provides a higher growth and survival rate, while also showing what habitat to stock fish into and at what density to get the highest amount of survival and growth. This information will not only be useful to managers of the Boquet River but to salmon restoration projects worldwide.