Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Density-dependent and inter-specific interactions affecting European eel settlement in freshwater habitats.

Abstract

Identifying the factors influencing the settlement of European eel (Anguilla anguilla) juveniles in continental habitats is crucial to designing effective management and conservation measures for this endangered species. A long-term data series (1993-2008) of European eel and European catfish (Silurus glanis) abundance in a freshwater canal of the Camargue water system (southern France), along with parallel data on water salinity and glass eel abundance in the adjacent Vaccarès lagoon, was analysed to identify the possible causes of decline in eel abundance observed in the canal during the last two decades. A model including glass eel recruitment and catfish abundance as covariates explained 78% of the observed variation in eel settlement success. Results suggest that (1) salinity does not play a significant role in determining the fraction of eels moving from the brackish lagoon to the canal; (2) density dependence affects settlement success, possibly through a reduction of juvenile survival in the adjacent lagoon; and (3) catfish abundance is negatively correlated with eel settlement. We discuss this latter point in terms of possible predation of catfish upon eels and/or inter-specific competition between the two species.