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What happens to glass eels after restocking in upland rivers? A long‐term study on their dispersal and behavioural traits
Matondo, B.N.; Séleck, E.; Dierckx, A.; Benitez, J.-P.; Rollin, X.; Ovidio, M. (2019). What happens to glass eels after restocking in upland rivers? A long‐term study on their dispersal and behavioural traits. Aquat. Conserv. 29(3): 374-388.
In: Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. Wiley: Chichester; New York . ISSN 1052-7613; e-ISSN 1099-0755, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]
    Fresh water

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  • The European eel Anguilla anguilla is a critically endangered fish species as a result of human activities and climate change in river and oceanic ecosystems. Restocking using glass eels in continental freshwater areas is a potential conservation measure for enhancing local eel stocks and for conserving the species in aquatic habitats, where it may otherwise disappear. However, little is known about the fate of these restocked individuals and the early ecological behaviour of the young eels translocated in rivers.
  • A portable radio-frequency identification (RFID) telemetry system and 12-mm tags were used to track restocked eels for a duration of 4 years. The aim was to understand the early movement, behavioural traits, dispersal, and habitat use of elvers after restocking performed in 2013 with glass eels in a shallow riverine environment.
  • From the 241 tagged eels (total length, Q50 = 152 mm), 85% were detected in 1968 positions during a period of 4 years, beginning in 2014. Clear seasonality in eel activity was observed, with higher mobility in summer when the water temperature was high (above 12°C). Dispersal was slowed by numerous artificial obstacles and the high carrying capacity of habitats. There was a negative relationship between the body size of eels at tagging and their mobility. Five behavioural categories of mobility patterns were identified: ascending, descending, oscillating with an upstream trend, oscillating with a downstream trend, and stationary. The first four categories depleted with time, in favour of stationary individuals that displayed a highly sedentary lifestyle.
  • This study provides new knowledge of the long-term dispersal behaviour of restocked eels and the influence of seasons, barriers, and habitats on their colonization strategy changing with time. The results contribute to a better understanding of the issue of uncommon restocking practices in upland rivers.

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