Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 177–190 | Cite as

Ecology, behaviour and management of the European catfish

  • Julien Cucherousset
  • Pavel Horky
  • Ondrej Slavík
  • Michaël Ovidio
  • Robert Arlinghaus
  • Stéphanie Boulêtreau
  • Robert Britton
  • Emili García-Berthou
  • Frédéric Santoul


The extreme body sizes of megafishes associated with their high commercial values and recreational interests have made them highly threatened in their native range worldwide by human-induced impacts such as overexploitation. Meanwhile, some megafishes have been introduced outside of their native range. A notable example is the European catfish (Silurus glanis), one of the few siluriforms native to Eastern Europe. It is among the 20 largest freshwater fish worldwide, attaining a total length over 2.7 m and a documented mass of 130 kg. Its distinct phylogeny and extreme size imply many features that are rare among other European fish, including novel behaviours (massive aggregations, beaching), consumption of large bodied prey, fast growth rates, long lifespan, high fecundity, nest guarding and large egg sizes. The spread of the species is likely to continue due to illegal introductions, primarily for recreational angling, coupled with natural range extension associated with climate change. Here, the most recent knowledge on the current distribution and the ecology of the species are reviewed. A series of key research questions are identified that should stimulate new research on this intriguing, yet largely unknown, species and, more generally, on the ecology of freshwater invaders.


Angling Biological invasion Freshwater Trophic ecology Wels catfish 



This work was produced as part of the “European Catfish Working Group” that was financially supported by the University of Toulouse. Individual members of the group were supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Project CGL2013-43822-R), the Government of Catalonia (ref. 2014 SGR 484), the European Commission (COST Action TD1209), Czech Science Foundation (Project 16-06498S) and the French Laboratory of Excellence Project “TULIP” (ANR-10-LABX-41; ANR-11-IDEX-0002-02).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julien Cucherousset
    • 1
  • Pavel Horky
    • 2
  • Ondrej Slavík
    • 2
  • Michaël Ovidio
    • 3
  • Robert Arlinghaus
    • 4
    • 5
  • Stéphanie Boulêtreau
    • 6
  • Robert Britton
    • 7
  • Emili García-Berthou
    • 8
  • Frédéric Santoul
    • 6
  1. 1.UMR5174 EDB (Laboratoire Évolution & Diversité Biologique)CNRS, Université Paul Sabatier, ENFAToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Czech University of Life Sciences Prague Department of Zoology and FisheriesPraha 6, SuchdolCzech Republic
  3. 3.Biology of Behaviour Unit, Laboratory of Fish Demography and HydroecologyUR-FOCUSLiègeBelgium
  4. 4.Department of Biology and Ecology of FishesLeibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany
  5. 5.Division of Integrative Fisheries ManagementFaculty of Life SciencesBerlinGermany
  6. 6.EcoLab, CNRS, INPT, UPSUniversité de ToulouseToulouseFrance
  7. 7.Department of Life and Environmental SciencesBournemouth UniversityPooleUK
  8. 8.GRECO, Institute of Aquatic EcologyUniversity of GironaGironaSpain

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