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Effects of hydrokinetic turbine sound on the behavior of four species of fish within an experimental mesocosm

Study Status: 
Princple Investigator Contact Information: 

Name: Michael Schramm

Address: Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, College Station, TX, 77843, US

Email: michael.schramm@ag.tamu.edu

Project Description: 

To assess the potential for behavioral impacts, we exposed four species of fish to varying intensities of recorded hydrokinetic turbine sound in a semi-natural environment. Although we tested freshwater species (redhorse suckers [Moxostoma spp], freshwater drum [Aplondinotus grunniens], largemouth bass [Micropterus salmoides], and rainbow trout [Oncorhynchus mykiss]), these species are also representative of the hearing physiology and sensitivity of estuarine species that would be affected at tidal energy sites. We evaluated changes in fish position relative to different intensities of turbine sound as well as trends in location over time with linear mixed-effects and generalized additive mixed models. We also evaluated changes in the proportion of near-source detections relative to sound intensity and exposure time with generalized linear mixed models and generalized additive models. 

Funding Source: 

This research was supported by the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Water Power Program.

Location of Research: 

Kerr Hollow Quarry on the Oak Ridge Reservation, Anderson County, Tennessee

Project Aims: 

To identify behavioral responses that are ecologically significant, including avoidance or attraction

Project Progress: 


Key Findings: 

The distance-from-speaker based models suggest that redhorse suckers did not demonstrate appreciable changes in mean location at the tested volumes. However, the proportion of near speaker redhorse sucker detections significantly decreased during short-term high volume treatments compared to controls. The proportion of near speaker redhorse sucker detection decreased over time during long-term exposures of high volume treatments, but showed a slight increase near the end of the treatment, suggesting some initial avoidance followed by possible acclimation toward the end of the long exposure. The distance based models for freshwater drum showed mixed results, and differences between speakers suggest other factors may have influenced drum position during the experiment. There were no significant differences in the proportion of near speaker freshwater drum detections at different volumes. The proportion of near speaker freshwater drum detections during the long exposure trials slightly decreased over time, but the proportion of near speaker detections generally remained extremely low for all the freshwater drum trials. The largemouth bass models did not indicate differences in mean location at tested volumes, and the proportion of near speaker detections remained the same among volumes. However, the proportion of near speaker largemouth bass detections gradually decreased over time suggesting the possibility of slight avoidance behavior. The distance based rainbow trout models suggest trout locations were not impacted by volume. Interpretation of the distance based rainbow trout models is limited because distances were generally outside of 5 m. The proportion of near speaker rainbow trout detections decreased at high volumes, but remained stable over time.


These results provide evidence that the sound pressure produced by a single HK turbine might influence the presence of fish at the tested volumes, although the effects are small. Even though some significant responses were detected, the kind of overwhelming response that would portend an ecologically relevant outcome in an actual tidal turbine setting was not observed.

Related Publications: 

Schramm, M.; Bevelhimer, M.; Scherelis, C. (2017). Effects of hydrokinetic turbine sound on the behavior of four species of fish within an experimental mesocosm. Fisheries Research, 190, 1-14. https://tethys.pnnl.gov/publications/effects-hydrokinetic-turbine-sound-behavior-four-species-fish-within-experimental

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