Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 13, Issue 13, pp 2443-2452

First online:

Spawning habitat enhancement in the European bullhead (Cottus gobio), an endangered freshwater fish in degraded lowland rivers

  • Guy KnaepkensAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Antwerp
  • , Liesbet BruyndoncxAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Antwerp
  • , Johan CoeckAffiliated withInstitute of Nature Conservation
  • , Marcel EensAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Antwerp

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Due to river regulation, the natural habitat of the European bullhead (Cottus gobio) has been degraded and often there is an apparent lack of suitable spawning substrates (hard objects like stones). Addition of artificial structures to degraded habitats may be a very promising tool for habitat enhancement. In this study, we evaluated the use of ceramic tiles as artificial spawning substrates in canalised and (remaining) meandering parts of anthropogenically perturbated lowland rivers in Flanders (northern part of Belgium). Furthermore, we examined whether water depth and velocity were important determinants for the choice of tiles in these different river trajectories. Tiles were successfully used by the bullhead as spawning substrates. In the meandering parts of the river, the number of egg deposits was significantly positively correlated with water depth, while in canalised river parts, water depth and velocity were of no importance for tile usage. In general, supplementation of rivers with artificial substrates like tiles may be a promising, inexpensive and easy-to-use enhancement technique for degraded bullhead spawning habitat.

Artificial spawning structure Conservation Cottidae Cottus gobio Fisheries management Habitat rehabilitation