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Downstream migration of European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) in an anthropogenically regulated freshwater system: Implications for management
Verhelst, P.; Buysse, D.; Reubens, J.; Pauwels, I.; Aelterman, B.; Van Hoey, S.; Goethals, P.; Coeck, J.; Moens, T.; Mouton, A.M. (2018). Downstream migration of European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) in an anthropogenically regulated freshwater system: Implications for management. Fish. Res. 199: 252-262. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.fishres.2017.10.018
In: Fisheries Research. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0165-7836, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Telemetry; Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    European eel; Migration; Freshwater; Estuary; Migration barriers

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Abstract
    Connectivity between freshwater habitats and marine areas is heavily obstructed by anthropogenic structures (e.g. weirs, pumping stations, sluices…), leading to a high pressure on diadromous fish populations. A better understanding of fish migration behaviour in relation to these barriers is needed to take proper mitigation actions. We investigated the impact of migration barriers on downstream migrating European eel (Anguilla anguillaL.) by tracking 50 acoustically tagged eels between July 2012 and March 2015 in a Belgian polder area. The study area was selected due to the presence of a wide range of migration barriers, such as two pumping stations, a weir and tidal sluices. These structures regulate the water level, resulting in discontinuous flow conditions. The results showed that migration was primarily nocturnal and discharge appeared to be the main trigger for migration in the polder. We also observed substantial delays and exploratory behaviour near barriers. Delays can have a serious impact on eels since their energy resources are limited for a successful trans-Atlantic migration. In addition, delays and exploratory behaviour can also increase predation and disease risk. The obtained knowledge can contribute to efficient management such as improved fish passage and guidance solutions.

Datasets (2)
  • European eel acoustic telemetry dataset to assess eel movement behaviour, more
  • European eel acoustic telemetry dataset to assess habitat use and migration of European eel in a polder area in Flanders, more

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