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Research Projects with Bergen Telemetry Network

PaCE: Pathogens and Climate Change

2020 - ongoing

The PaCE project is a collaborative research endeavor among NORCE LFI, the Institute of Marine Research, NTNU, and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. PaCE explores the link between fish pathogens and a changing climate in the north by using gill biopsy and high throughput PCR technology to establish individual status and link this with migratory movements of salmonids. PaCE is financed by the Norwegian Research Council (9.9 mNOK) and led by Dr. Knut Vollset at NORCE. Forty sea trout were tagged in Bolstadfjord in 2020 with temperature sensor tags along with 40 in the northern site, Beiarelva, for comparison. The tags will last about three years.

LaKES: The lake habitat of salmonids and interaction with hydropower

2021 - ongoing

About 30% of Norway's rivers include anadromous lakes that salmon must navigate along their migration. These lake areas are frequently exploited for hydropower production with artificial inlets and outlets. This project is co-financed between the Norwegian Research Council and two industry partners to better understand how smolt, adult, and kelt salmonids use lakes and how hydropower production affects this relationship. The project is led by NORCE and uses Bergen Telemetry Network to track movements in the Osterfjord and Vosso River. We are tagging 90 smolts in 2021 and 2022 with predation sensor tags along with 40 adult salmon in summer 2021 and 2022 to study how the lakes are used during migration and overwintering.


BOATS: Bergen's Ocean Acoustic Tracking System

2021 - ongoing

BOATS, initiated in 2021 with support from Miljødirektoratet (Norwegian Environment Agency), is dedicated to studying the behavior of marine species in Bergen's urban fjord and city harbor, known for its high pollution levels. In 2022, Bergen kommune (Bergen Municipality) and Regionale forskningsfond (Regional Research Fund) joined us in our mission: to track marine species before, during, and after the 2023 restoration process, which involves debris removal and sediment capping. Our scope has expanded from acoustically tagging wrasses and trouts to include lobsters, cods, and pollacks. By employing acoustic telemetry across species with diverse ecological niches and connecting movement ecology with ecotoxicology through blood and tissue sampling, we aim to comprehensively assess the broad impact of the restoration process and provide valuable management insights. To date, we've successfully tagged 35 wrasses, 11 trouts, 47 cods, 14 pollacks, and 17 lobsters. A network of receivers continuously monitors their movements, and our research will persist.


LOST: deoxygenation of Norwegian fjords and its effect on the behaviour of the shark spiny dogfish

2021 - ongoing

This project focuses on sharks that live in Norwegian fjords (hereafter fjord sharks), which are top predators in the deep and have a strong influence on the ecosystem structure. Norway’s fjord sharks include the endangered spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) as well as velvet belly lanternshark (Etmopterus spinax) and blackmouth catshark (Galeus melastomus); for all species, population dynamics and structure, movement patterns, and physiology are poorly resolved. Yet, all species are subjected to bycatch in commercial and recreational fisheries and have the potential to be dramatically affected by habitat compression in fjords. Taken together, there is a distinct need to collect data on these fjord sharks to inform management efforts and to mitigate human-shark conflicts. In a pilotstudy within the project LOST, we tagged 10 spiny dogfish in 2021 to study movement and depth behavior using Bergen Telemetry Network in Osterfjord. We will keep tagging sharks throughout spring 2022.


SUPERSAT: Hydropower induced supersaturation in freshwaters

2021 - ongoing

Hydropower (HP) is the main source of energy supply in Norway and is predicted to increase by 73 % worldwide in the next 10-20 years, including 3700 new major dams (>1 MW). SUPERSAT will provide new crucial knowledge and quantification of supersaturation processes, identified as a major potential effect of HP on river ecosystems. Hence, the project will deliver the basis for mitigation and improved solutions supporting a more sustainable and environment-friendly development of the HP industry. Some of the knowledge gap we aim to cover focuses on the behaviourally respond of fish and invertebrates to gas supersaturation, and how large the impact is. The knowledge on how to prevent supersaturation is highly relevant when constructing new HP plants and during revision of concession for existing plants.


RePRESS: Return of the otter - Aggravation of human-wildlife conflicts and potential for mitigation strategies for coastal areas under pressure

2023 - ongoing

Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations are declining throughout their distribution. Meanwhile, Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) populations in Western Norway are recovering from overexploitation, increasing predation pressure on salmon and igniting conflicts between otters and river owners. This project, which is funded by the Norwegian Research Council, adopts an interdisciplinary approach to investigate both the social and biological dimensions of otter’s return to Norwegian coastal ecosystem. Utilizing social science methods, the project aims to understand various stakeholders’ perspectives on the presence of otters and their perceived understanding of the species’ ecological role, while identifying effective management tools for environmental authorities.

Furthermore, building upon our pilot studies that employed radio telemetry to investigate otter predation on salmon, we will tag both salmon and otters to gain a deeper understanding of the ecology and interactions between the two species. Additionally, the project will explore various deterrent strategies to determine if otters can be effectively scared off from conflict hot-spots without resorting to culling, which is currently practiced legally and illegally in multiple locations.

The effect of hydropower on salmon smolt survival

2022 - ongoing

Hydropower is a major stressor for Atlantic salmon smolts when barriers in rivers result in entrainment through turbines or result in other physical damage to the animals. There is conflict regarding hydropower questioning the fate of smolts migrating through rivers and fjords. This project is funded by the energy company Eviny, and aims to understand the movements of salmon smolts through the two rivers with hydropower generating stations: Modalen River and Tysse River. Modalen has implemented structures so that salmon smolts can pass the river intakes. However, management is questioning the performance of these structures. Tysse has a similar fish passage structure whose performance is questioned. Using acoustic telemetry will help us identify the fate of smolts and the timing and location of death for those that perished during their migration. Understanding the risk for smolts at these critical migration points is an urgent need for industries and management to ensure sustainability of the salmon populations. 


Investigating the preferred migration route of Atlantic salmon smolts and adults through the fjord system in Suldal

2023 - ongoing

This project is investigating when and where Atlantic salmon smolts and adults navigate through the fjords of Suldal, past the area around Jelsa where infilling is proposed to create a new windfarm platform. There are several different paths they can take through the ford, with two islands at Jelsa creating three channels that could be used for seaward migration. Using acoustic telemetry, we are tracking the Atlantic salmon smolts from Suldalslagen and documenting the main routes beyond Jelsa that are important for understanding their migration between freshwater and marine areas, in addition to understanding how anthropogenic activities and developments affect their migration path.

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