Japanese eels (Anguilla japonica) perform large‐scale oceanic migrations between their spawning ground and growth habitats in continental waters during life history. However, between these migrations, they spend most of time in growth habitats such as rivers. To investigate the diel and seasonal activities, homing behaviour and home range of yellow‐phase Japanese eels in the lower reach of the Tone River, we tracked them throughout a year using a fine‐scale positioning system (VPS) based on acoustic telemetry. The tracked eels were generally nocturnal, but not exclusively. They were mainly mobile from spring to autumn, with little or no activity observed during winter. A transport‐release experiment showed that most eels returned to their original capture area within 13 days after release. The eels had very small home ranges (mean ± SD = 0.085 ± 0.068 km2), core areas (0.014 ± 0.014 km2) and linear home ranges (744 ± 268 m). They also tended to be distributed on one particular side of the river (right or left bank) and in one particular shore type (revetment or vegetation), rarely moving from one to the other. This study provides evidence for nocturnal, dormancy, homing behaviours, limited habitat use and small home range size in Japanese eels. The eels clearly showed strong fidelity to a “familiar” site, which contrasts with the long distances travelled during upstream and downstream migration phases in the river, and during spawning migrations in the ocean.
Ecology of Freshwater Fish – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ;
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