Many populations of migratory fish species, including white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus Richardson), are threatened due to modification of riverine systems and may experience downstream displacement or mortality at water intake structures. Efforts to reduce the impacts of these structures are beginning to incorporate behavioural guidance, where the sensory capabilities of fishes are exploited to repel them from high-risk areas or attract them towards desirable paths. Artificial lighting has been tested before, but consisted of single-spectrum lights. Using a new programmable LED-based light guidance device (LGD), we exposed age-0 white sturgeon to light strobing at 1 Hz, 20 Hz, or constant illumination with colours (green, red, blue) matching the absorbance maxima of their retinal photopigments. The behavioural responses of the sturgeon were assessed using y-maze dichotomous choice tests under both day (light) and night (dark) conditions. Sturgeon demonstrated positive phototaxis under both day and night conditions, and approached the LGD more often when light was continuous or strobing at 20 Hz compared to strobing at 1 Hz. Green light elicited the greatest rates of attraction overall. The combination of strobing and colour may help to protect imperiled fish from waterway development and serve as an effective form of mitigation at hydropower facilities and other human infrastructure where fish may be entrained or impinged.

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Environmental Biology of Fishes
Department of Biology

Ford, M.I. (Matthew I.), Elvidge, C.K. (Chris K.), Baker, D. (Dan), Pratt, T.C. (Thomas C.), Smokorowski, K.E. (Karen E.), Sills, M. (Michael), … Cooke, S.J. (2018). Preferences of age-0 white sturgeon for different colours and strobe rates of LED lights may inform behavioural guidance strategies. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 1–8. doi:10.1007/s10641-018-0727-1