, Volume 371, Issue 0, pp 187–198

Seasonal variations in time and space utilization by radio-tagged yellow eels Anguilla anguilla (L.) in a small stream

  • E. Baras
  • D. Jeandrain
  • B. Serouge
  • J. C. Philippart


Seven yellow eels (572–643 mm, 318–592 g) Anguilla anguilla (L.) were tagged with surgically implanted radio transmitters (activity circuit, 1.6–1.7 g) and tracked in the Awirs stream, a small (width < 5 m, depth from 0.1 to 1.2 m), densely populated (ca. 250 kg of eel ha-1) tributary of the Belgian River Meuse. The eels were positioned daily from late April to mid-August, and their diel activity was studied during twenty four 24-h cycles. During day-time, the eels were resting in rootwads or in crevices inside stone walls or in crevices in between rocks. They became more active in the late afternoon but generally did not leave their residence before sunset, except under overcast weather. Activity peaked during the first part of the night then progressively vanished, and always ended before sunrise. The area exploited during night-time never extended over more than 40 m2, except when the eel changed its residence. The intensity and timing of nocturnal activity and the extent of the daily activity area were dependent on water temperature (respectively P < 0.0001, P < 0.05 and P < 0.0005), with eels showing little or no activity when the diurnal temperature did not exceed 13 °C. Eels showed higher agitation under full moon and maintained their activity later in the night (P < 0.05). The eels showed restricted mobility, and occupied small stream areas (from 0.01 to 0.10 ha) in a non sequential mode, except for two fish which were displaced to the River Meuse by a spate in early June and were never recovered. The length and frequency of net daily journeys were higher (P = 0.005) at water temperatures above 16 °C in late May and June, which also corresponded to the period of immigration of eels from the River Meuse. This study thus shows that large yellow eels may adopt a highly sedentary lifestyle in a continental, fast flowing and densely populated environment, even at periods of the year when these stages usually show upstream migrations.

home range diel activity foraging behaviour eel Anguilla anguilla 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barak, N. A. E. & C. F. Mason, 1992. Population density, growth and diet of eels, Anguilla anguilla L., in two rivers in eastern England. Aquacult. Fish. Mgmt. 23: 59–70.Google Scholar
  2. Baras, E., 1992. Etudes des stratégies d'occupation du temps et de l'espace chez le barbeau fluviatile, Barbus barbus (L.). Cah. Ethol. 12: 125–442.Google Scholar
  3. Baras, E., 1995. Seasonal activities of Barbus barbus: effect of temperature on time-budgeting. J. Fish Biol. 46: 806–818.Google Scholar
  4. Baras, E. & D. Jeandrain, 1998. Evaluation of surgery procedures for tagging eel Anguilla anguilla with biotelemetry transmitters. Hydrobiologia 371/372: 107–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baras, E. & J. C. Philippart (eds), 1996. Underwater Biotelemetry. University of Liège, Belgium, vi + 257 pp.Google Scholar
  6. Baras, E., J. C. Philippart & B. Salmon, 1996. Estimation of migrant yellow eel stock in large rivers through the survey of fish passes: a preliminary investigation in the River Meuse (Belgium). In I. G. Cowx (ed), Stock Assessment in Inland Fisheries. Fishing News Books, London: 83–92.Google Scholar
  7. Baras E., B. Salmon & J. C. Philippart, 1994. Evaluation of a eel trap sampling method for the assessment of migrant yellow eels Anguilla anguilla (L) in the River Meuse. Bull. fr. Pêche Piscic. 335: 7–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baras, E., C. Birtles, L. Westerloppe, X. Thoreau, M. Ovidio, D. Jeandrain & J. C. Philippart, 1998. A critical review of surgery techniques for implanting telemetry devices into the body cavity of fish. In Y. Le Maho (ed.), Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Wildlife Telemetry. Strasbourg, France, 26–30 August 1996, in press.Google Scholar
  9. Beumer, J. P., 1979. Feeding and movement of Anguilla australis and A. reihnardtii in Macleods Morass, Victoria, Australia. J. Fish Biol. 14: 573–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brusle, J., 1989. L'anguille européenne (Anguilla anguilla), une es pèce jugée commune jusqu'à la dernière décennie, mérite-t-elle d'acquérir aujourd'hui le statut d'espèce menacée? Bull. Soc. zool. France 114: 61–70.Google Scholar
  11. Chisnall, B. L. & J. M. Kalish, 1993. Age validation and movement of freshwater eels (Anguilla dieffenbachii and A. australis) in a New Zealand pastoral stream. New Zealand J. mar. freshw. Res. 27: 333–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deelder, C. L., 1984. Synopsis of biological data on the eel Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758). FAO Fish. Synopsis 80: 73 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Dutil, J. D., A. Giroux, A. Kemp, G. Lavoie & J. P. Dallaire, 1988. Tidal influence on movements and daily cycle of activity of American eels. Trans. am. Fish. Soc. 117: 488–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ernande, B., 1995. Etude du rythme d'activité de l'anguille européenne Anguilla anguilla L. en marais maritime par télémétrie acoustique. M. S. Thesis, CNRS Ifremer, 41 pp. + ann. CREMA l'Houmeau, Place du Séminaire, BP 5, F-17137 L'Houmeau, France.Google Scholar
  15. Ford, T. E. & E. Mercer, 1986. Density, size distribution and home range of American eels, Anguilla rostrata, in a Massachusetts salt marsh. Envir. Biol. Fishes 17: 309–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gunning, G. E. & C. R. Shoop, 1962. Restricted movements of the American eel, Anguilla rostrata (LeSueur), in freshwater streams with comments on growth rate. Tulane Stud. Zool. 9: 265–272.Google Scholar
  17. Hart, P. J. B., 1986. Foraging in teleost fishes. In T. J. Pitcher (ed.), The behaviour of teleost fishes. Croom Helm, London: 211–235.Google Scholar
  18. Helfman, G. S., D. L. Stoneburner, E. L. Boseman, P. A. Christian & R. Whalen, 1983. Ultrasonic telemetry of American eel movements in a tidal creek. Trans. am. Fish. Soc. 112: 105–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Huet, M., 1949. Aperçu de la relation entre la pente et les populations piscicoles des eaux courantes. Schweiz Z. Hydrol. 11: 332–351.Google Scholar
  20. Knights, B., E. White & L. A. Naismith, 1996. Stock assessment of European eel, Anguilla anguilla L. In I. G. Cowx (ed.), Stock Assessment in Inland Fisheries. Fishing News Books, London: 431–447.Google Scholar
  21. LaBar, G. W. & D. E. Facey, 1983. Local movements and inshore population sizes of American eels in Lake Champlain, Vermont. Trans. am. Fish. Soc. 112: 111–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. LaBar, G. W., J. A. Hernando Casal & C. Fernandez Delgado, 1987. Local movements and population size of European eels, Anguilla anguilla, in a small lake in south-western Spain. Envir. Biol. Fishes 19: 111–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Legault, A., 1987. L'anguille dans le bassin de la Sèvre niortaise. Publ. Dépt. Halieut. Ecole Nat. Sup. Agro. Halieut. 6: 295 pp., Nantes, France.Google Scholar
  24. Lobon-Cervia, J., Y. Bernat & P. A. Rincon, 1990. Effects of eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) removals from selected sites of a stream on its subsequent densities. Hydrobiologia 206: 207–216.Google Scholar
  25. Mann, H., 1965. Ñber das rückkehrvermogen verpflantzer fluss-aal. Arch. Fischereiwissenschaft 15: 177–185.Google Scholar
  26. McDowall, R. M., 1988. Diadromy in fishes. Croom Helm, London, 308 pp.Google Scholar
  27. McGovern, P. & T. K. McCarthy, 1992. Local movements of freshwater eels (Anguilla anguilla L.) in western Ireland. In I. G. Priede & S. M. Swift (eds), Wildlife Telemetry: Remote Sensing and Monitoring of Animals. Ellis Horwood, Chichester, UK: 319–327.Google Scholar
  28. Moriarty, C., 1983. A population study of the eel Anguilla anguilla in Meelick Bay, Lough Derg. Fish. Bull. Dublin 7: 1–8.Google Scholar
  29. Moriarty, C., 1986. Riverine migration of young eels Anguilla anguilla (L.). Fish. Res. 4: 43–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Moriarty, C., 1990. European catches of elver of 1928–1988. Int. Rev. Ges. Hydrobiol. 75: 701–706.Google Scholar
  31. Neveu, A. & M. Echaubard, 1975. La dérive estivale des invertébrés aquatiques et terrestres dans un ruisseau du Massif Central: la Couze Pavin. Ann. Hydrobiol. 6: 1–26.Google Scholar
  32. Nyman, L., 1975. Behaviour of fish influenced by hotwater effluents as observed by ultrasonic tracking. Rep. Inst. freshwat. Res. Drottningholm 54: 64–74.Google Scholar
  33. Parker, S. J., 1995. Homing ability and home range of yellow-phase American eels in a tidally dominated estuary. J. mar. biol. Ass. U. K. 75: 127–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Priede, I. G. & S. M. Swift (eds), 1992. Wildlife Telemetry: Remote Sensing and Monitoring of Animals. Ellis Horwood Ltd., Chichester, UK, 708 pp.Google Scholar
  35. Rossi, R., M. Bianchini, A. Carrieri & P. Franzoi, 1987. Observations on movements of yellow eels Anguilla anguilla after displacement from coastal waters to sea. J. Fish Biol. 31: 155–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sinha, V. R. P. & J. W. Jones, 1975. The European freshwater eel. Liverpool University, Liverpool, 146 pp.Google Scholar
  37. Sörensen, J., 1950. An investigation of some factors affecting the upstream migration of the eel. Rep. Inst. freshwat. Res. Drottningholm 32: 126–172.Google Scholar
  38. Sorensen, P. W., M. L. Bianchini & H. E. Winn, 1986. Diel foraging activity of American eels, Anguilla rostrata (LeSueur), in a Rhode Island estuary. Fish. Bull. 84: 746–747.Google Scholar
  39. Stasko, A. B. & S. A. Rommel Jr., 1974. Swimming depth of adult American eels (Anguilla rostrata) in a saltwater bay as determined by ultrasonic tracking. J. Fish. Res. Bd Can. 21, 1148–1150.Google Scholar
  40. Tesch, F. W., 1974. Speed and direction of silver and yellow eels, Anguilla anguilla, released and tracked in the open North Sea. Ber. dt. wiss Kommn. Meereforsch. 23: 181–197.Google Scholar
  41. Tesch, F. W., 1977. The Eel. Biology and Management of Anguillid Eels. Chapman & Hall, London.Google Scholar
  42. Tesch, F. W., 1978. Telemetric observations on the spawning migration of the eel (Anguilla anguilla) west of the European continental shelf. Envir. Biol. Fishes 3: 203–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tesch, F. W., 1979. Tracking of silver eels (Anguilla anguilla) in different shelf areas of the Northeast Atlantic. Rapp. P. V. Réun. Cons. Explor. Mer 174: 104–114.Google Scholar
  44. Westerberg, H., 1982. Ultrasonic tracking of migrating eels in Lake Hjaelmaren. Rep. Inst. freshw. Res. Drottningholm 7, 1–22.Google Scholar
  45. Westin, L. & L. Nyman, 1979. Activity, orientation and migration of Baltic eel (Anguilla anguilla L.). Rapp. Cons. Explor. Mer 174: 115–123.Google Scholar
  46. Winter, J. D., 1983. Underwater biotelemetry. In L. A. Nielsen & J. D. Johnsen (eds), Fisheries Techniques. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland: 371–395.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Baras
  • D. Jeandrain
  • B. Serouge
  • J. C. Philippart

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations