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Egg-to-fry development and survival of brown trout Salmo trutta were compared in two rivers of the Pyrenean piedmont, the Nive d’Arnéguy, with few human activities, and the Nive des Aldudes, with many anthropogenic activities including 11 fish farms and two sewage treatment plants (STPs). Survival was estimated between spawning (early December) and emergence time (early March) by means of capsules, 7 cm3 in volume, filled with green eggs then inserted into the gravel of artificial redds at spawning sites. In the Nive des Aldudes, three sets of conditions were studied: a fish farm near the springs, a fish farm and an STP in a village, and a series of fish farms and an STP in a village. In each situation, two artificial redds were created upstream and two others downstream from the fish farms. In the Nive d’Arnéguy, four sites were equipped: each of the two downstream sites with two artificial redds, and the two upstream sites with one redd. Substratum characteristics (proportion of fine particles) and the quality of surface and interstitial water (oxygen content, ammonia and nitrite nitrogen) were periodically measured. There was no redd substratum difference between sites upstream and downstream of fish farms. Survival to fry emergence was higher in the Nive d’Arnéguy (63·5%) than in the Nive des Aldudes (47·7%). In this latter river, the nitrogen released from the STPs was 0·5% that from fish farms. Fish farming impaired survival close to fish farm effluents (31·6%), as compared to survival upstream (63·6%), and induced a development delay during the yolk-sac fry stage. These differences were mainly linked to a drop in the dissolved oxygen content in interstitial water induced by the nitrogen flow in surface and interstitial waters.
INRA, Station d’Hydrobiologie, UMR INRA-UPPA ECOBIOP, Quartier Ibarron - 64 310 Saint Pée sur Nivelle, France 2:
UPPA, UMR INRA-UPPA ECOBIOP, Avenue de l’Université, BP 1155 - 64000 Pau cedex, France