Russon IJ, Kemp PS, Calles O. Response of downstream migrating adult European eels (Anguilla anguilla) to bar racks under experimental conditions.
Ecology of Freshwater Fish 2010: 19: 197–205. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S
Abstract – The behavioural response of downstream migrating nonsalmonid fish to hydraulic conditions associated with river infrastructure is poorly understood. The response of downstream migrating adult European eels (Anguilla anguilla) to bar racks (12 mm bar spacing) angled on the vertical and horizontal planes under different flow regimes and during periods of darkness was assessed. Eels predominantly moved along the channel floor and wall, tending to follow routes where turbulence intensity was high. Time taken to approach the racks was greater than expected if fish had moved passively with the flow. Eels did not exhibit clear avoidance behaviour prior to encountering the racks, instead marked changes in behaviour occurred only after physical contact was made with the structure. No impingement or passage through the racks occurred, and passes per approach were high (98.3%), when vertical racks were angled 15°, 30° or 45° relative to the flow. Impingement and passage through the racks only occurred when horizontally inclined racks were placed perpendicular to the flow. The time eels were impinged on the racks was negatively related to discharge when angled at 30° relative to the channel floor, and positively related when upright. Frequency of impingement was higher under low discharge (132.9 ± 16.6 l·s−1). Impinged eels escaped from racks at approach velocities of 0.90 ± 0.05 m·s−1. Passage through the upright rack was common under high discharge (278.9 ± 36.2 l·s−1). The information presented will improve current fish passage criteria for European eels that are required to develop more effective fish passage facilities.