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The Keogh River salmonid project has been ongoing since the late 1970s and boasts one of the longest time series of steelhead abundance and marine survival in the world. Work on the Keogh includes rigorous stock assessment methods and cutting-edge technologies to study steelhead and salmon ecology. We employ resistivity fish counters, and radio and PIT telemetry to provide detailed information on movement ecology, migration timing, habitat use, and population structure. With an exceptionally long time-series, researchers can use the Keogh River as a model system to investigate the impacts of environmental and anthropogenic change on salmonid populations.

The Keogh River is a third order (1:50,000) coastal stream that flows north-westward into Queen Charlotte Strait near Port Hardy on the north end of Vancouver Island. It is 31 km in length, drains an area of 129 km^2, and has a mean annual discharge of 5.6 m^3∙s-1.  The river supports runs of winter run steelhead trout, coho and pink salmon, Dolly Varden char and minor runs of chum salmon and anadromous coastal cutthroat trout. The watershed resides within the coastal western hemlock biogeoclimatic zone that has been extensively logged over the last 40 years. [1]

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The monitoring program on the Keogh River provides a unique opportunity to understand long-term population dynamics for a variety of species by evaluating factors that affect discrete life history stages. These data have been collected since 1977 and have been used to understand the interactions between environmental variability, habitat use, marine survival, growth, and freshwater productivity. Population dynamics and behavioural interactions can also be inferred through examination of individual productivity and habitat use.


The Keogh site has provided many research opportunities beyond long-term population monitoring including:

  • Monitoring the success of habitat manipulations and nutrient additions to improve watershed productivity. The Keogh and Waukwaas watersheds were chosen as a paired watershed study for BC’s Watershed Restoration Program (WRP) to assess the effects of restoration techniques on salmonid abundance, growth, and smolt yield. The Waukwaas River was chosen as an environmental reference watershed in this study, i.e., no rehabilitation to habitat but subjected to environmental perturbations.

  • Evaluating the benefits of hatchery supplementation to rebuild low-abundance steelhead populations. The Keogh site was the experimental river for conservation hatchery research and the steelhead Living Gene Bank (LGB) project.

  • Evaluating the effects of mid-summer flow augmentation on smolt production through the spring storage and summer release of lake impoundment.

  • Ocean growth study based on scale sample evaluations to evaluate the potential timing of marine mortality.

  • Ongoing collaborative research with Jon Moore at Simon Fraser University on fish habitat use and salmon-derived nutrient subsides. [1]

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[1] J.M.S. Harding.  2016.  Adult steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and salmonid smolt migrations at the Keogh River, BC, during winter 2015 and spring 2016.  BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Victoria, BC. PDF

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