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What are the best upland river characteristics for glass eel restocking practice?
Matondo, B.N.; Benitez, J.-P.; Dierckx, A.; Renardy, S.; Rollin, X.; Colson, D.; Baltus, L.; Romain, V.R.M.; Ovidio, M. (2021). What are the best upland river characteristics for glass eel restocking practice? Sci. Total Environ. 784: 147042. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.147042
In: Science of the Total Environment. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0048-9697; e-ISSN 1879-1026, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Restocking; Freshwater ecosystems; Capture-mark-recapture; Endangered fish; Species conservation; European eel

Authors  Top 
  • Matondo, B.N., more
  • Benitez, J.-P., more
  • Dierckx, A., more

Abstract
    The fitness of restocked European eel (Anguilla anguilla), an endangered fish species, was studied in relation to the environmental variables of habitats in six upland rivers that are typologically different in terms of their hydromorphological and physicochemical characteristics, food resources and fish communities. These rivers received a total of 76,370 imported glass eels in 2017. During a three-year period, we monitored eels with respect to total length, annual growth rate, condition factor and density using capture-mark-recapture experiments to understand the effects of the characteristics of receiving rivers on restocking success levels. Our results showed the survival of the restocked eels in the six rivers and revealed significant differences between them in terms of total length, condition factor and density. Better performance in eel yield variables was observed in a eutrophic alkaline river with greater roughness of riverbed substrates, dominant pool- and riffle-type flow facies and lower brown trout density. The variables conductivity and total hardness had higher explanatory power and were strongly associated with increased eel density. This study suggests that a well-selected habitat/river in a restocking programme can be beneficial for the species and recommends restocking practice as a management tool to achieve eel conservation goals.

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