Owl River Walleye and Aquatic Habitat Assessment
The Owl River is considered a primary spawning system for Lac La Biche walleye. In 2011/12, we began a long-term project to protect and restore riparian habitat along the Owl River to aid walleye population restoration. We collected baseline data on the distribution of walleye spawning habitat, the abundance of spawning walleye, water quality, and aquatic habitat and riparian health. In 2014, we reassessed these characteristics as part of a three-year interval monitoring protocol; results from the riparian component of the study are presented in the Land Management section. In spring 2014, we conducted a mark-recapture survey using two pound nets to determine the magnitude of the walleye spawning run from the lake into the Owl River. Eighty eight percent of the 998 walleye captured migrating from the lake into the Owl River were in a spawning stage, confirming use of the Owl River as a walleye spawning system. Males (65%) were more abundant in the catch than females (22%). Walleye in the spawning run ranged in size from 435 to 677 mm total length. Due to zero recaptures, we were unable to derive reliable abundance estimates of the walleye spawning run. Dissolved oxygen was high (6.8 to 10.1 mg/L) throughout the system from May to August. Total phosphorus concentrations were high (summer average: 84 to 290 µg/L) throughout the system, with higher concentrations at downstream sites than at upstream sites. Total coliform counts exceeded the established limit for agricultural use (>1,000 mpn/100 mL) at all sites. Substrate in the upper sites was dominated by boulder, cobble and gravel suitable for walleye spawning, whereas sites in the lower section consisted mainly of fines and sands unsuitable for walleye spawning.
Alberta Environment and Parks, Syncrude Canada Ltd.
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|Owl River Walleye and Aquatic Habitat Assessment||2014-2015||1|