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Swimming activity and behaviour of European Anguilla anguilla glass eels in response to photoperiod and flow reversal and the role of energy status

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To better understand migratory divergences among Anguilla anguilla glass eels, the behaviour of individuals caught at the time of their estuary entrance was studied through their response to a light:dark cycle and then to both water current reversal and light:dark cycle. In a first experiment, fish moving with the flow in response to dusk (M+ fish) and fish that had not exhibited any movement (M fish) were distinguished. Anguilla anguilla from these two groups were then individually marked and their response to water current reversal compared. M+ individuals mainly exhibited negative rheotaxis with a tidal periodicity, whereas positive rheotaxis was mainly exhibited by M individuals. Thus, M+A. anguilla glass eels showing negative rheotaxis appear to have the strongest propensity to migrate, the converse applies to M ones showing positive rheotaxis. A small percentage of individuals (5%) were hyperactive, alternately swimming with and against the current with almost no resting phase. These fish lost c. 2 mg wet mass day−1, whereas individuals which were almost inactive lost c. 1 mg day−1. Wet and dry mass changes in relation to activity levels were compared with previous experiments and it was concluded that A. anguilla glass eel energy status might be involved in differences in migratory tendencies but other factors that might be important are discussed. It is proposed that any decrease in A. anguilla glass eel energy stores associated with global warming might lead to an increase in the proportion of sedentary individuals and thus be involved in the decrease in the recruitment to freshwater habitats.

Keywords: Anguilla anguilla; estuary; migration; physiology; swimming patterns

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: INRA Station d’Hydrobiologie, UMR ECOBIOP INRA/UPPA, Quartier Ibarron, 64310 St Pée sur Nivelle, France

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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