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Decreased stock entering the Belgian Meuse is associated with the loss of colonisation behaviour in yellow-phase European eels
Matondo, B.N.; Ovidio, M. (2018). Decreased stock entering the Belgian Meuse is associated with the loss of colonisation behaviour in yellow-phase European eels. Aquat. Living Resour. 31: 7. https://dx.doi.org/10.1051/alr/2017047
In: Aquatic Living Resources = Ressources vivantes aquatiques. Elsevier: Montrouge. ISSN 0990-7440; e-ISSN 1765-2952, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 381055 [ OMA ]

Keywords
    Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]
    Fresh water
Author keywords
    Upstream movement / behaviour / body size / speed / yellow-phase eels / freshwater

Authors  Top 

Abstract
    The upstream migratory behaviour of yellow-phase European eels was investigated in regulated inland rivers (>320 km upstream the sea), where the stock is in drastic decline. From 2010 to 2015, eels entering the Belgian Meuse River (n = 1357; total length, 231–755 mm) were caught in fish passes, tagged with a pit-tag and released. Their upstream movements were tracked during the next six consecutive years, using three detection stations installed in vertical-slot fish passes of the Meuse and its Ourthe tributary. Among the 1357 eels tagged, 27.6% (n = 374 individuals) were detected at one or more of the three upstream detection stations. Only 6.6% (n = 89) of tagged eels were detected at the two subsequent stations. In this last group, most of the detected eels continued to move upstream through the Meuse rather than leaving it for the Ourthe. Water temperature >13 °C, river flow 24–226 m3/s, dark time 00:00–05:00 h and the spring–summer seasons were the most important cues for upstream migration. Temperatures and flows at detection did not differ between size classes of ascending eels, while the detection period was earlier and daily speed was faster in large (>450 mm) eels. However, small (≤300 mm) eels moved further upstream at slow speeds because they alternated between short periods of movement and long stationary periods. This behaviour suggests the existence of a few nomad individuals and probably more home range dwellers in the entering population. Small eels were better suited to colonise upper rivers.

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