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Exploring Population Dynamics Patterns in a Rare Fish, Zingel asper, through Capture-Mark-Recapture Methods

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We performed a capture-mark-recapture study on one of the last populations of Zingel asper, an endemic percid species of the Rhône River basin in France. The distribution of Z. asper has decreased dramatically during the last century. We sampled three sites in suitable habitats in the Beaume River. No impact of individual tagging on survival was found. The demography of the population was analyzed using capture-recapture methods that allow the estimation of survival, recruitment, and demographic growth rates. Annual survival rates were low (0.35–0.50). The level of transience was high (5% to 25%), suggesting that a significant number of individuals were highly mobile or shifted to suboptimal habitats. Seniority rates suggested random highly variable recruitment between years. The three sites had similar variation patterns in all demographic parameters, indicating broad spatial covariation in population dynamics. We found some local differences in demographic parameters, which could be linked to local habitat quality. Individual tagging allowed for the estimation of demographic parameters that improved our understanding of Z. asper population dynamics and revealed mechanisms that may affect population persistence, such as stochastic recruitment, low survival, and frequent dispersal. The fragmentation of habitat through river damming inhibits dispersal and represents a threat to the persistence of Z. asper in the Rhône basin. Our results offer evidence of the importance of dispersal in nonmigratory fishes and confirm the usefulness of individual tagging methods in rare fish demography.
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Keywords: dispersal; dispersión; population growth rate; seniority; supervivencia; survival; tasa de crecimiento poblacional; transience; transitoriedad; veteranía

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Fish Behavioral Ecology, National Institute of Agronomical Research, Research Unit 1224, BP3, 64310 Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle, France

Publication date: 2005-04-01

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