Investigating Fish Connectivity in the Rideau Canal Waterway to Inform Conservation Decisions

Bergman collecting LOTEK receivers
Bergman collecting LOTEK receivers from the array she deployed in the Rideau Canal Waterway. Behind her is the Smiths Falls Combined Lockstation in Smiths Falls, Ontario.
By: Jordanna N. Bergman, PhD Student, Carleton University and Steven J. Cooke, Professor, Carleton University The Rideau Canal Waterway, located in eastern Ontario, forms a continuous 202-km route between Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River and is connected by 23 working lockstations. Construction of this waterway connected previously disconnected aquatic habitats, allowing both invasive and native species to move through anthropogenic barriers, including locks and dams. This research project will use telemetry data to track native and invasive fish as they travel through this system and the potential factors driving movements. The goal is to inform conservation decisions and invasive species management strategies, including how infrastructure and operations could be refined to reduce invasive species spread. In summer 2019, we acoustically tagged 245 fish (LOTEK L-AMT series), including two recreationally important native species, largemouth bass and northern pike, and two invasive species, common carp and round goby. Acoustic receivers (LOTEK WHS 4250) were strategically placed throughout the system to create an array to (1) detect if fish passed through barriers, (2) investigate how fish interact with lock infrastructure, and (3) examine seasonal movement patterns of native and invasive fish species. Researchers have described waterways with barriers as “invasion highways” for aquatic species. This project will determine if, when and how fish are moving through the system without compromising connectivity to native species and inform conservation decisions.
Jordanna Bergman inserting an acoustic transmitter (JSATS L-AMT 1.416) into a round goby (Neogobius melanostomus).

Bergman, assisted by Carleton University undergraduate student Brenna Gagliardi, surgically implanting an acoustic transmitter (JSATS L-AMT 8.2) into a northern pike (Esox lucius).

Tracking common carp (Cyprinus carpio) using acoustic (left image; JSATS L-AMT 14-12) and external (right image; blue anchor Floy tag) tags.

Other RAEON Projects


Inland Lakes

Lake Erie

Huron-Erie Corridor

St. Lawrence River

Lake Superior

Lake Ontario

Lake Huron

Lake Michigan

Projects to Come

Rideau Canal Waterway

Lake Winnipeg

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    Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research
    University of Windsor
    2990 Riverside Drive West
    Windsor, Ontario, N9C 1A2