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Research Document - 2013/110

Assessment of measures to assess compensation and mitigation as related to the creation, rehabilitation, or restoration of spawning habitat for fluvial or lacustrine spawning salmonines

By John D. Fitzsimons


Salmonine spawning habitat is often the focus of fish habitat restoration efforts. To guide these efforts, I review the importance of spawning habitat, measures to mitigate development related habitat destruction and degradation, methods of constructing new habitat and how to monitor constructed spawning habitat productivity. The assessment considered peer reviewed literature and agency files for both fluvial and lacustrine spawning salmonines. Although agency files involving creation of spawning habitat were limited, there was ample evidence in the peer reviewed literature suggesting that spawning habitat for both fluvial or lacustrine spawners can be created that supports natural reproduction and can contribute to successful recruitment to the adult populations. Multiple methods exist for directly or indirectly assessing the use, relative success, and quality of compensatory habitat. The challenge for practitioners is in the assessment and understanding of the effects of specific spawning habitat creation on populations, whose members may be temporally (e.g., spawning run may be several years removed from spawning habitat creation) and spatially (e.g., upstream spawning habitat supporting a downstream population) removed from habitat creation activities. Consequently challenges exist for developing sampling designs that make it possible to relate local spawning habitat creation projects to entire populations, and resolving the links between habitat creation and population response.

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