Effectiveness of fish screens in protecting lamprey (Entosphenus and Lampetra spp.) ammocoetes - pilot testing of variable screen angle.
Thousands of screened water diversions throughout the Columbia River Basin of the Pacific Northwest are sources of entrainment (unintended diversion into an unsafe passage route), injury, and mortality for a range of fish species and screening criteria have been developed to reduce and mitigate these effects. Large knowledge gaps exist concerning the potential effects of these screens on juvenile and larval lampreys (Entosphenus and Lampetra spp.) that may be particularly vulnerable to screening effects owing to their small size, unique morphology, and poor swimming performance. The few studies that have evaluated screen impacts for lampreys have compared common screen materials in a laboratory setting using a large, recirculating flume, and have reported that screen size and material influence the risk of entrainment. We compared entrainment rate, impingement rate and duration, injury rate, and delayed (24-hour) mortality of larval lamprey (ammocoetes) exposed to two screen angles. A 20-degree screen was tested because it is a common configuration, and a 12-degree screen was selected to represent a screen more parallel to flow than the 20-degree screen. We included juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in tests for both screen angles so that any screen interaction improvements observed for lamprey could be considered in light of their effect on salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.). Study fish were released singly into the flume at two locations: near-screen (SCR) releases at about 30 centimeters upstream of the screen and mid-channel (MID) releases at about 1.4 meters upstream of the screen. We completed 120 screen trials with ammocoetes and 117 screen trials with juvenile tout during April-May 2018. Ammocoetes had short mean trial durations (less than 30 seconds) and were most frequently bypassed. Over one-half of the ammocoetes briefly (for less than 1 second) contacted the screen. Rates of screen contact were similar between the two screen angles, but higher for SCR releases (about 83-90 percent) than for MID releases (about 28-44 percent). Screen impingements were not common (8.3 percent of ammocoetes) and did not result in significant injury or delayed mortality. The final logistic regression model showed that screen angle and release location did not significantly affect whether ammocoetes were bypassed. The size of the lamprey, expressed as mass or length, was the only significant predictor of fate. We noted an estimated 4.7-percent increase in the odds of being bypassed for every 1-milligram increase in ammocoete mass and a 49-percent increase in the odds of being bypassed for every 1-millimeter increase in length. Trout did not experience negative effects with the 12-degree screen; they had short mean trial durations (less than 40 seconds) and limited contact with the screens (11.1 percent of trout), were most commonly bypassed, and none were entrained. Screen angle and release location were not significant drivers of fate for trout. The 12-degree and 20-degree screens performed comparably for both lamprey and trout and effectively bypassed these fishes. Some metrics showed advantages for the 12-degree screen, suggesting that screens installed more parallel to flow might warrant further testing.