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Assessing benefits to migratory fishes of habitat restored by dam removal

Weir used to monitor upstream and downstream fish migration


August 2006 - August 2011


Many fish species migrate in order to reach suitable spawning or nursery habitat. All of these groups benefit when access to additional habitat is restored by dam removal. The Little River basin in North Carolina provides a valuable opportunity to examine how migratory fishes use habitat restored through dam removal. One problem in predicting the benefits of dam removal is that relatively little is known about how these fishes select spawning habitat (e.g., whether species use tributaries or mainstem rivers, deep versus shallow sites, or different substrates). Another limitation in predicting benefits of dam removal is that habitat preferences are poorly understood.

Specific project objectives are: to determine fish abundance and migratory patterns during spring and to relate movements to physical variables including habitat availability. Information on spawning habitat will be used to develop refined models for predicting the benefits of fish passage or dam removal in other systems

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Raabe, J. K., B. Gardner, and J. E. Hightower. 2014. A spatial capture-recapture model to estimate fish survival and migration patterns from linear continuous monitoring arrays. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 71:120-130. Download  | 


  • Raabe, J.K. 2012. Factors Influencing Distribution and Survival of Migratory Fishes Following Multiple Low-Head Dam Removals on a North Carolina River. PhD Dissertation, North Carolina State University.


  • Raabe, J. K., and J. E. Hightower. 2009. Assessing benefits to American shad of habitat restored by dam removals. American Fisheries Society, Nashville, Tennessee, August 30-September 3, 2009.
  • Raabe, J. K., and J. E. Hightower. 2010. Evaluating benefits to American shad of habitat restored by dam removals. American Fisheries Society, 140th Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA, September 12 – 16, 2010.
  • Raabe, J. K., and J. E. Hightower. 2011. Behavior of migratory fishes in a North Carolina river following dam removals. Southern Division, American Fisheries Society, Tampa, Florida, January 13-16.
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Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 240

Phd Students: 143

Post Docs: 52

University Staff: 245

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 702

Scientific Publications: 1948

Presentations: 4251



Funding Agencies

  • USFWS Region 4


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey