, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 1-27

The habitat diversity and fish reproductive function of floodplain ecosystems

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Synopsis

Fish reproduction in floodplain ecosystems, based on relative abundance and total biomass of 0+ juveniles, was studied using the synchronic approach to typological analysis in conjunction with Point Abundance Sampling by modified electrofishing. In 3 different flood plains of the Upper Rhône River, 1015 point samples yielding 4573 juveniles (0+) from 21 species were collected from 48 ecosystems of various geomorphological origin. The results demonstrate the lotic-to-lentic succession of floodplain ecosystems to be a series of non-sequential reproductive zones, with spawning conditions being reflected by the specific composition and guild structure of the YOY fish assemblages. The habitat diversity and the fish reproductive potential of floodplain ecosystems are strongly influenced by geomorphological origin and by past and present hydrological conditions. The YOY assemblages of autogenically driven ecosystems (usually of anastomose or meander origin) tend to differ both in composition and in quantity from those found in allogenically driven ecosystems (generally of braided origin). Ecosystems of intermediate character, and fish reproduction thereof, occur as the result of either ecosystem rejuvenation or senescence: autogenically driven ecosystems by allogenic mechanisms, or allogenically driven ecosystems by anthropic and/or autogenic mechanisms, respectively. Because of co-occurrence of ecosystems at similar and at different successional status, the flood plain as an entity is seen as ‘stable’ with respect to fish reproduction.