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Recruitment of Anguilla spp. glass eels in the Waikato River, New Zealand. Evidence of declining migrations?

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The timing of Anguilla spp. glass eel recruitment into the Waikato River, North Island, New Zealand, was studied over a 2 year period (2004–2005). While glass eels of both the shortfin eel Anguilla australis and the endemic longfin eel Anguilla dieffenbachii were caught, the former comprised >97% of the species composition. There was a positive correlation of glass eel migrations with spring tides, with peak migration periods typically occurring within a few hours of the peak of high tide, and between 2 and 4 days after the day of spring tide. Both water temperature and discharge had significant inverse relationships with glass eel catches, with temperature explaining >30% of the variance in catch periodicity. Comparison of catch data 30 years apart showed that main migration periods appear to occur several weeks earlier today than previously. Reduced catch per unit effort and duration of runs from recent years' sampling (compared with the 1970s) indicate that a reduction in recruitment may also have occurred during this period, something recorded in other temperate species of Anguilla.
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Keywords: Anguilla australis; Anguilla dieffenbachii; spring tides; tidal influence; upstream migration

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: National Institute of Water and Atmosphere, P. O. Box 8602, Christchurch 8440, New Zealand 2: Claims Environmental Unit, Waikato Raupatu Trustee Company Ltd, Private Bag 542, Ngaruawahia, New Zealand

Publication date: 01 June 2009

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