Throughout their lives, fish accomplish frequent movements between functional habitats that are often triggered by environmental signals. We aimed to determine if rheophilic cyprinids (barbel, Barbus barbus and chub Squalius cephalus), living in different places of the same river basin, may develop similar movement periodicities and react identically to environmental cues to carry out their spawning migration. We used the capture data of three modern fish passes that were monitored continuously during three consecutive years (2010 to 2012) in three rivers of the Meuse basin in Belgium. We captured 418 individuals at adult stage, and the capture number per species was greater (80%) in spring (during the spawning migration period). The spawning migration of the barbel occurred earlier (median = 122nd day of the year) and at lower temperatures (median = 14.5°C) in the lowland rivers compared to the upland river (140th day of the year and 18.4°C). For the barbel, migration initiation differed depending on the river but finished under similar environmental conditions. In contrast, for the chub, no significant difference between rivers was observed regarding spawning migration periodicity and environmental cues. Within the same river basin, rheophilic cyprinids demonstrate flexibility in their responses to environmental variables and may optimise the start date of migration to spawning grounds depending on their local environment and individual experiences. This phenomenon was more pronounced in the barbel, which has more specific ecological requirements.
Ecology of Freshwater Fish – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ;
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