Characterizing the effects of suspended sediment on the smoltification of Atlantic salmon in the Restigouche watershed
In recent decades, the number of wild Atlantic Salmon returning to rivers of Eastern Canada has declined to unprecedented lows. One conservation effort by the Gespe'gewaq Mi'gmaq Resource Council (GMRC) was the construction of various sedimentation basins on Little Main Restigouche near Saint Quentin (NB). These basins are designed to prevent potato fields sediment from entering the Restigouche River watershed after rain events. Fine suspended sediments (SS) can damage salmonid health, notably by impairing their smoltification, an important physiological process that adapts migrating juveniles to life in seawater. We propose to investigate the benefits of trapping SS on salmon smoltification in the Restigouche River watershed (NB). In the lab, we will expose smolts to pulses of fine SS collected from sediment basins and measure biological effects (e.g. smoltification and stress markers). Furthermore, we will measure potentially present agrochemicals (e.g. glyphosate, atrazine) on the collected SS, as they can also be harmful to salmonid health.