The Juvenile Salmon Acoustic Telemetry System (JSATS) employs acoustic transmitters and receivers to remotely track fish in one, two, or three dimensions with precision. The information obtained by JSATS helps to monitor fish behavior and evaluate fish passage through structures. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries developed JSATS in 2001 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. More than two hundred thousand fish have been studied with JSATS tags since 2005.
JSATS was initially developed and has been extensively used to monitor the behavior, movement, habitat use, and survival of juvenile salmonids migrating from freshwater (through rivers and reservoirs and past hydroelectric dams) into saltwater in the Pacific Northwest. However, the technology is applicable to a wide range of aquatic species, research goals, and locations. For instance, JSATS has also been used to monitor the movements of other fish species such as American and European eels, sea trout, channel catfish, smallmouth bass, northern pikeminnow, walleye, lamprey, and sturgeon; fish behavior in relation to a variety of waterpower structures; and in many other geographic locations including California, Australia, Europe, and Brazil.
Current and previous applications of JSATS illustrate how the system can:
- estimate survival and travel time of juvenile salmon migrating more than 800 km through freshwater river, reservoir, estuary, and marine habitat
- assess survival and habitat use of juvenile salmonids migrating through an estuarine environment
- determine impacts of ferry terminals on juvenile salmonid movements in salt water
- estimate route-specific dam passage survival of juvenile salmonids
- observe predator–prey interactions
- evaluate fish guidance and passage structures at hydroelectric dams using detailed 3-D tracking
- monitor delayed mortality of juvenile salmonids transported past hydroelectric dams in barges
- evaluate fish behavior at a mid-reach location and in dam tailraces using high-accuracy, high-efficiency 3-D tracking
- determine fish survival and migration behavior at a river confluence to determine the effects of water temperature stratification and dissolved gas.