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Variations in the spawning periodicity of eight fish species in three English lowland rivers over a 6 year period, inferred from 0+ year fish length distributions

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Tel.: +44 (0)1482 466429; fax: 44 (0)1482 470129; email: a.d.nunn@hull.ac.uk

Abstract

The spawning periodicity of eight fish species was investigated in three English lowland rivers over a 6 year period from patterns in 0+ year fish standard length (LS) distributions. A single cohort of 0+ year dace Leuciscus leuciscus, roach Rutilus rutilus and perch Perca fluviatilis was observed each year, suggesting that these species spawned only once annually. By contrast, populations of chub Leuciscus cephalus, bleak Alburnus alburnus, bream Abramis brama, gudgeon Gobio gobio and minnow Phoxinus phoxinus were inferred to spawn on more than one occasion each year. Annual and intercatchment variations occurred in the LS distribution patterns of some of the fish species. In chub, for example, although a minimum of two 0+ year cohorts occurred in all years in the River Trent, ‘multiple’ spawning (either at the individual or population level) was most apparent in 1999, 2003 and 2004. By contrast, ‘multiple’ spawning events were not evident in all years in the Warwickshire Avon and Yorkshire Ouse, with recruitment presumably based upon a single spawning event in some years. There is effectively a trade-off between early spawning (extended growing season), and the possibility that environmental conditions will impact upon recruitment success, and the potential for reduced overwinter survival of smaller individuals with lower lipid resources from later spawning events. Notwithstanding, fishes as small as 15 mm LS survived the winter in some years, suggesting that progeny from later spawning events may make important contributions to fish recruitment success.

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