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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Martyn Lucas

Kemp, P. S., Russon, I. J., Vowles, A. S. & Lucas, M. C. (2011). The influence of discharge and temperature on the ability of upstream migrant adult river lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis) to pass experimental overshot and undershot weirs. River Research and Applications 27(4): 488-498.

Author(s) from Durham


The efficiencies of fish passes specifically designed and constructed to facilitate the movement of a limited number of species and life-stages past structural barriers are likely to decline as site-specific conditions shift with a changing climate. There is a need to develop realistic fish passage criteria based on understanding swimming capability and behaviour of multiple species in relation to temperature and flow. The influence of temperature and discharge on behaviour and ability of groups of migrating adult river lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis), a threatened species, to pass a small overshot or undershot weir at night was investigated using a large experimental flume. Lamprey approached the weirs less, and more often maintained station by using the oral disk to attach to structure, under high flows. Oral disk attachment was more commonly observed during tests employing the undershot weir. Upstream movement tended to be in close proximity to the channel walls and floor where, compared to the mid-channel, velocities were generally lower and velocity vectors more likely to be in a direction other than the bulk flow. Upstream movement was positively related to temperature, and was higher for the overshot weir. Weir passage rate was higher for undershot than overshot weirs, and negatively related to the maximum velocity at the weir. Passage rate was low when maximum velocities at the weir exceeded 1.5 m s−1, although some fish passed at c. 1.7 m s−1. Passage efficiency, the number of weir passes as a percentage of the number of approaches, was also higher for the undershot weir, but was not affected by discharge because lamprey approached less frequently at high flows. This study provides fish passage criteria under realistic conditions for an infrequently studied anguilliform species of conservation concern and provides a methodological perspective by which to improve fishway suitability for a wider range of species subject to changing climate.