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Title: A fish-eye view of riverine hydropower systems. Understanding the biological response to turbine passage

One-way connectivity maintained by fish passing through hydropower turbines in fragmented rivers can be important to population dynamics, but can introduce a new and significant source of mortality due to turbine-associated mortality. Sources of mortality during downstream turbine passage can come from several sources including blade strike, shear forces, cavitation, or pressure decreases, and parsing the contributions of these individual forces is important for advancing and deploying turbines that minimize these impacts to fishes. We used a national hydropower database and conducted a systematic review of the literature to accomplish three goals: (1) report on the spatial distribution of turbine types and generation capacities in the USA, (2) determine fish mortality rates among turbine types and fish species and (3) examine relationships between physical forces similar to those encountered during fish turbine passage and fish injury and mortality. We found that while Francis turbines generate 56% of all US hydropower and have the highest associated fish mortality of any turbine type, these turbines are proportionally understudied compared to less-common and less injury-associated Kaplan turbines, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. While juvenile salmonid species in actual or simulated Kaplan turbine conditions were the most commonly studied, the highest mortality rates weremore » reported in percid fishes passing through Francis turbines. Also, although there are several mechanisms of turbine-associated injury, barotrauma was the most commonly studied with swim bladder rupture, exopthalmia, eye gas bubbles, and prolapsed cloaca being the most serious symptoms associated with rapid pressure decreases. Future studies should focus on understanding which species are most at-risk to turbine passage mortality and, subsequently, increasing the diversity of taxonomy and turbine types in evaluations of turbine mortality.« less
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  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 19; Journal Issue: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 0960-3166
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier: