Seasonal and diel patterns in the migrations of fishes between a river and a floodplain tributary

Authors


A. D. Nunn, Hull International Fisheries Institute, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Hull, Hull, UK; e-mail: a.d.nunn@hull.ac.uk

Abstract

Nunn AD, Copp GH, Vilizzi L, Carter MG. Seasonal and diel patterns in the migrations of fishes between a river and a floodplain tributary. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 2010: 19: 153–162. © 2009 John Wiley & Sons A/S

Abstract –  The population behaviours associated with the migrations of fishes in lowland river ecosystems are amongst the most poorly-understood dispersal mechanisms of temperate freshwater organisms. This study evaluated the influence of four environmental variables (light levels, river discharge, water temperature and water velocity) on the timing, intensity and direction of fish movements between the River Avon (Hampshire, England) and a small floodplain tributary, Ibsley Brook, over a 12-month period. Using canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) to identify patterns of movement (by groups of species) and the relative strengths of explanatory variables in the data, the probability of fishes migrating between the river and tributary was determined using Bayesian modelling. The intensity and direction of fish movements between the river and tributary varied temporally, both on a diel and seasonal basis, and there were species- and age-specific patterns in behaviour. Diel movements appeared to be triggered by changes in light intensity and brook water velocity, whereas seasonal movements were mostly driven by changes in river discharge and water temperature, particularly those associated with floods. This study emphasises the importance of connectivity in river systems, as fishes migrated in all conditions, but especially during rapidly-rising discharge.

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