Hydropower dams block migration routes and disrupt longitudinal connectivity in rivers, thereby posing a threat to migratory fish species. Various fish passage solutions have been implemented to improve connectivity with varying success. A well-functioning passage solution must ensure safe and timely passage routes that are used by a substantial portion of the migrating fish. In this thesis, I report the results from telemetry studies where the behavior and survival of migrating Atlantic salmon spawners, post-spawners and smolts have been evaluated in relation to hydropower dam passage. I evaluate downstream passage performance at dams with no passage solutions in the River Klarälven, and with simple passage solutions in in the Winooski River. In the River Ätran, I study both upstream- and downstream passage performance at a dam with sophisticated passage solutions based on the best available technology. In addition, I have studied the survival and behavior of post-spawners and hatchery-released smolts.
A substantial portion of the spawners survived spawning and initiated downstream migration. Most males migrated downstream in autumn following spawning, whereas females tended to stay in the river until spring. For hatchery-reared smolts, early release was associated with faster initiation of migration and higher survival compared to late release. Multiple dam passage resulted in high mortality for both smolts and kelts. For smolts, dam passage, even with simple passage solutions, was associated with substantial delay and mortality. High spill levels were linked to high survival and short delay for downstream migrating salmon. The best available passage solution, which consisted of a nature-like fishway and a low sloping intake rack to guide fish to a bypass, resulted in rapid passage of a large portion of the adult migrants.