Timing of brown trout spawning in Alpine rivers with special consideration of egg burial depth

Authors

  • Christina Riedl,

    Corresponding author
    • Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Department of Fish Ecology and Evolution, Centre of Ecology, Evolution and Biogeochemistry, Kastanienbaum, Switzerland
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  • Armin Peter

    1. Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Department of Fish Ecology and Evolution, Centre of Ecology, Evolution and Biogeochemistry, Kastanienbaum, Switzerland
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Correspondence: Christina Riedl, Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Department of Fish Ecology and Evolution, Centre of Ecology, Evolution and Biogeochemistry, Kastanienbaum, Switzerland. E-mail: christina.maria.riedl@gmail.com

Abstract

Timing of spawning, habitat use and egg burial depths of brown trout were studied in seven Swiss (alpine and prealpine) rivers, which differed in size, altitude and flow regime. In general, we observed brown trout spawning activity between the end of October and the beginning of January. The spawning duration differed significantly, however, between rivers, ranging from 28 to 72 days. Analysis of environmental parameters for their influence on spawning activity revealed mean water temperature and altitude as the most explanatory variables. Detailed investigation of redd characteristics based on water velocity, water depth and substrate size clearly showed differences between positions on the redd. Brown trout in Alpine rivers preferred to use velocities of 30–40 cm·s−1, water depths of 10–20 cm and substrates of 16–32 mm for spawning. It has to be noted, however, that recorded values cover almost the whole range of data on spawning habitats that has been reported in literature so far. A special focus of this study was on egg burial depths, which were surprisingly not found to differ significantly between the rivers despite their different flow regimes. Recorded egg burial depths were, however, found to be distinctly lower (mean burial depth: 3.8 cm) than reported by almost any study so far. We see this observation of low burial depths in Alpine rivers as useful in the context of scouring effects, especially when evaluating the influence of scouring on fish populations.

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