Understanding environmental drivers and impacts of cumulative effects and other stressors on kəkniʔ (kokanee) spawning timing and duration

kəkniʔ (kokanee), a species of landlocked sockeye salmon, live in kɬúsx̌nítkʷ (Okanagan Lake) and spawn in the downstream portions of sqʷʔa (Peachland Creek). Spawning success depends on in-stream water quality and quantity, including the timing, volume, and temperature of flowing waters.

Changes to the climate and watershed disturbance, such as wildfires and forest harvesting, can impact these important in-stream habitat characteristics, and may threaten the future existence of kəkniʔ in the region. To ensure future success of the spawning run, we are working to understand the specific impacts of these alterations on the kəkniʔ population.

Our results support research being done at UBC and beyond and will provide scientific evidence to support the development of an integrated governance model for the sqʷʔa watershed.   

  • kəkniʔ (kokanee) do not migrate to the ocean like other species of salmon in the region. Instead, they remain in freshwater habitats for their entire lives.

  • We attach temperature probes to cement bricks before placing them in the water. The bricks secure them in place and shade them from direct sunlight.

  • Emily Moore placing a lake temperature probe at the outlet of Trepanier Creek into kɬúsx̌nítkʷ (Okanagan Lake).

  • Emily Moore placing a stream temperature probe into a pool in sqʷʔa (Peachland Creek). Note the large wood that provides hiding places for young fish.

Our research focuses on kəkniʔ (kokanee). These fish were photographed in sqʷʔa (Peachland Creek) near Hardy Falls.

You may come across one of our temperature probes while exploring the lakes and creeks around Peachland. Please do not touch them.

Cold water is critical to kəkniʔ (kokanee) survival. We monitor water temperatures during the hot summer months to help predict spawning success.

Deep pools in streams are places where the water runs slower and cooler compared to shallow riffle areas. They are safe, comfortable resting places for migrating kəkniʔ (kokanee).

Fish Team

Dr. Sheena Spencer

Adjunct Professor, UBCO & Research Hydrologist, Ministry of Forests

Dr. Adam Wei

Watershed Ecosystems Research cluster lead & Professor, UBCO

Emily Moore

MSc student, UBCO

Contact the fish team

Please contact Sheena Spencer for questions related to this research.