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Haro, Alexander

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Research Ecologist and Section Leader, Fish Passage Engineering
S.O. Conte Anadromous Fish Research Laboratory
U.S. Geological Survey
1 Migratory Way, Turners Falls, Massachusetts 01376
Phone: 413-863-3806
Email: aharo

USGS web page

Primary interests

Dr. Haro’s work involves migratory fish behavior, design, engineering, and evaluation of fish passage structures, biotic and abiotic influences on fish migration, behavior of upstream and downstream migrant diadromous fishes, and ecology and management of American eels.  His research focuses on restoration and sustainability of migratory (diadromous and riverine) fish populations, and supports effective conservation and enhancement of populations of fish species throughout the northeastern United States, as well as nationally and internationally.  Much of the research is applied, involving design, evaluation, and engineering of specific passage structures, but also has strong basic science components of fish behavior, fish locomotion, and energetics, as well as hydraulics, fluid mechanics, structural, civil, and mechanical engineering, and hydrology.  Dr. Haro provides extensive basic and applied research and advice to state, national, and international agencies, NGOs, and the private sector on fish passage technology and operations.  Dr. Haro received his B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Michigan in 1981, a M.Sc. in Zoology from the University of Rhode Island in 1985, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maine in 1989.  His graduate work involved migration and behavior of American eels.


Current Projects

  • Evaluation and improvement of existing and novel passage structures based on integrating engineering design and hydraulics with behavioral experimentation to develop passage structures with known, measurable performance that have high effectiveness and reliability in field applications.
  • Physical and numeric hydraulic modeling to refine and optimize initial designs to establish criteria such as water velocity, turbulence, and air entrainment that are favorable for passage.
  • Evaluation of fish behavior and passage performance in full-scale structures constructed in the unique large hydraulic CAFRL Flume Facility at using actively migrating fish species and novel biotelemetry technologies.
  • Development of advanced telemetry systems for monitoring fish migration and movements.
  • Movement, behavior, and passage of American eels.

Current Students and Their Projects

Zahra Anwar: University of Massachusetts, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (MSc, CEE 2017). – Optimization of climbing substrates for upstream juvenile eel passage structures

Past Students and Their Projects

Courses Taught

ECO 697J – Ecology of Diadromous Fishes (3 cr; team taught) – Fall Semester, alternate years

This lecture/seminar format course reviews the biology, ecology, and management of diadromous fishes (fishes which undergo regular migrations between freshwater and marine habitats). These species possess complex and unique life histories and behaviors which are often poorly understood, but are critical for population sustainability and management. The course focuses on commonalities and differences among species worldwide, and reviews specialized management strategies and challenges for conservation. Covered topics include:

  • Ecology, behavior, and habitat
  • Ocean and freshwater migrations
  • Physiology
  • Energetics and nutrient transport
  • Fish passage
  • Management

Format of the course is team taught, lecture/seminar-style, with required readings, discussion, and a final exam and term paper. The class is open to undergraduates with prerequisite courses and permission of the instructor.

Recent Grants 

2017 –PI; $264,000. EPRI/Eel Passage Research Center: Investigation of electrical fields on behavioral response and guidance of outmigrating eels.

2016- Co-PI; $297,000. USGS/USFWS Science Support Partnership. Methods to improve fishway attraction efficiency and entry rates for American shad (Alosa sapidissima), alewife (A. pseudoharengus), and blueback herring (A. aestivalis).

2016- Co-PI $46,000. Great Lakes Fishery Commission Sea Lamprey Research Program. Evaluation of light as a non-physical cue to guide downstream-migrating lamprey transformers into traps.

2013 –Co-PI; $158,000. Great Lakes Fishery Commission Sea Lamprey Research Program: Tests of low-voltage DC fish-guidance systems to direct downstream migrating transformed sea lamprey into traps.

Recent Publications

Mulligan, K. B., B. Towler, A. Haro, and D. P. Ahlfeld. In Press. A study of velocity components at a downstream fish passage guide wall. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering.

Mulligan, K. B., B. Towler, A. Haro, and D. P. Ahlfeld. In Press. Sensitivity of the downward to sweeping velocity ratio to the bypass flow percentage along a guide wall for downstream fish passage. Ecological Engineering.

Haro, A., K. Mulligan, T. P. Suro, J. Noreika, and A. McHugh. In Press. Hydraulic and biological passability analysis of the Blackwells Mills USGS gaging weir. USGS Scientific Investigations Report.

Miehls, S.M.,  N. S. Johnson, and A. Haro. 2017. Electrical guidance efficiency of downstream migrating juvenile Sea Lamprey decreases with increasing water velocity. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 146:299-307. doi: 10.1080/00028487.2016.1256834

Mulligan, K., B. Towler, A. Haro, and D.P. Ahlfeld. 2017. A computational fluid dynamics modeling study of guide walls for downstream fish passage. Ecological Engineering 99:324-332, doi:10.1016/j.ecoleng.2016.11.025.

Turek, J., A. Haro, and B. Towler. 2016. Federal interagency nature‐like fishway passage design guidelines for Atlantic coast diadromous fishes. USGS-USFWS-NMFS Interagency Technical Memorandum. 47 pp.

Haro, A., B. Watten, and J. Noreika. 2016. Passage of downstream migrant American eels through an airlift deep bypass system. Ecological Engineering 91(2016):545-552. doi:10.1016/j.ecoleng.2016.02.028.

Castro-Santos, X. Shi, and A. Haro. 2016. Migratory behavior of adult sea lamprey and cumulative passage performance through four fishways. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. doi:10.1139/cjfas-2016-0089.

Towler, B., K. Mulligan, and A. Haro. 2015. Derivation and application of the energy dissipation factor in the design of fishways. Ecological Engineering. 83: 208-217. doi:10.1016/j.ecoleng.2015.06.014.

Haro, A., M. Chelminski, and R. Dudley. 2015. Computational fluid dynamics – habitat suitability index (CFD-HSI) modelling as an exploratory tool for assessing passability of riverine migratory challenge zones for fish. River Research and Applications 31: 526–537. doi:10.1002/rra.2911.

Theim, J.D., J.W. Dawson, A.C. Gleiss, E.G. Martins, A. Haro, T. Castro-Santos, A.J. Danylchuk, R.P. Wilson, S.J. Cooke. 2015. Accelerometer-derived activity correlates with volitional swimming speed in lake sturgeon (Acipenser fluvescens). Canadian Journal of Zoology 93: 645-654. doi:10.1139/cjz-2014-0271.

McCormick, S. D., A. Haro, D. T. Lerner, M. F. O’Dea and A. M. Regish. 2014. Migratory patterns of hatchery- and stream-reared Atlantic salmon smolts in the Connecticut River, USA. Journal of Fish Biology 85:1005 – 1022. doi:10.1111/jfb.12532.

Haro, A. 2014. Anguillidae. Pages 313-331 in: B. M. Burr and M. L. Warren, Jr., eds. Diversity of North American Freshwater Fishes: Natural History, Ecology, and Conservation.  Johns Hopkins University Press.

Haro, A. (ed.) 2013. Proceedings of a workshop on eel passage technologies.  Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Special Report No. 90. 32 p.

Castro-Santos, T. and A. Haro. 2013. Survival and behavioral effects of exposure to a hydrokinetic turbine on juvenile Atlantic salmon and adult American shad.  Estuaries and Coasts. doi:10.1007/s12237-013-9680-6.

Other Publications


Page updated: February 23, 2017