• Fish dispersal;
  • fish movement;
  • leptokurtic dispersal;
  • mobile component;
  • movement distance;
  • stationary component


Quantifying fish dispersal and identifying its general predictors is key for understanding temporal patterns in population dynamics, emigration and immigration, meta-community dynamics, many ecological processes and predicting recovery time or population responses to environmental changes. This is the first comprehensive quantitative meta-analysis of heterogeneous freshwater fish movement, aiming to determine mobile and stationary shares of fish communities, their dispersal distances and key predictors of dispersal patterns. By reviewing and analysing 160 empirical data sets from 71 studies covering 62 fishes in streams, it goes beyond previous studies of salmonids’ heterogeneous movement. Based on fitted leptokurtic dispersal kernels, the movement distances of (i) a stationary component (σstat) and (ii) a mobile component (σmob) as well as the (iii) share of each component (p) were calculated. The median movement distance of the stationary and mobile component of a fish population was 36.4 and 361.7 m, respectively. The share of the stationary individuals was high (median = 66.6%), but unrelated to movement distance. Single and multiple linear regressions as well as mixed-effects models revealed movement distances positively related to fish length, aspect ratio of the caudal fin, stream size and duration of the study. Furthermore, movement distance differed between taxonomic families. The quantitative parameters of heterogeneous fish movement provided are prerequisite to estimate time lags in fish response to river rehabilitation, temporal patterns in species dispersal, and minimum effective size of potential founder populations for species conservation and stock recovery based on minimum numbers of specimen to disperse.