Oak Meadows Inc.
A Comprehensive Redd Survey of PEI Salmon Rivers
This project was the first phase of a larger initiative to a) update the status of PEI rivers for the presence of Atlantic salmon and b) classify river- and reach-specific habitat quality and capacity to support the species. The methodology represented an expansion of earlier river surveys that informed the 2009 Atlantic Salmon Federation document “A Conservation Strategy for Atlantic Salmon in Prince Edward Island”.
In the fall of 2017, 26 rivers in PEI were assessed for Atlantic salmon spawning effort, using counts of redds (salmon egg nests) as an estimator of presence and relative breeding population size. At the same time, habitat problems were identified when obvious to those doing the redd surveys. This data will form part of a larger habitat dataset. Also, incidental observations of the principal spawning areas for brook trout were collected, but because of low water levels and a single pass by trout spawning sites, actual numbers of trout redds could not be obtained.
Of the 26 rivers evaluated, 23 still support spawning Atlantic salmon. The locations of redds were GPSed and mapped in relation to environmental variables such as landscape cover, topography and land use. Salmon rivers were arrayed in “clusters” for future management; if one river is inaccessible during a given year, adjacent rivers with appropriate salmon habitat may provide alternate spawning sites for that year. Collection of redd data involved 25 individuals representing 9 conservation organizations and built considerable capacity within the community to accurately and consistently monitor Atlantic salmon.
This survey will be used in conjunction with extensive electrofishing surveys in the summer of 2018, to establish density of juvenile salmon. Atlantic salmon are a species-at-risk; updated information on presence and population size relative to habitat variables will prove invaluable in managing watersheds to protect this important cold-water stream fish species.