Understanding the impact of barriers to onward migration; a novel approach using translocated fish

Jubb, W.M., Noble, R.A.A., Dodd, J.R., Nunn, A.D., Lothian, A.J. , Albright, A.J., Bubb, D.H., Lucas, M.C. and Bolland, J.D. (2023) Understanding the impact of barriers to onward migration; a novel approach using translocated fish. Journal of Environmental Management, 355, 117488. (doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.117488) (PMID:36827802)

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River catchments worldwide are heavily fragmented by anthropogenic barriers, reducing their longitudinal connectivity and contributing to the decline of migratory fish populations. Direct impacts of individual barriers on migratory fish are well-established, but barrier impacts on onward migration are poorly understood, despite their relevance to evidence-based, catchment-scale, management of threatened species. This study investigated the upstream spawning migration of 352 acoustic tagged river lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis), translocated up- stream of two key barriers (R2: n = 60 & 59; R3: n = 59 & 52) compared to a control group (R1: n = 61 & 59), across two contrasting (dry and wet, n = 180 and 172) years in the River Yorkshire Ouse, England, to reveal the impact of barriers on the onward migration of upstream migrating fish. Release further upstream increased the degree of catchment penetration, with median distance upstream of R1 56.1% and 68.6% greater for lamprey released at R2 and R3 respectively. Median delays at the two downstream-most main river barriers by the control group were 23.8 and 5.4 days (2018/19) and 9.3 and 11.4 days (2019/20). However, impacts of delay were only observed on the time to reach spawning habitat, time to reach final assumed spawning location and speed of movement in one upper catchment tributary during 2019/20 whilst they were only observed on time to reach spawning habitat during 2018/19 and on assumed spawning location distance during 2019/20 in the other. Ultimately, limited impacts of delay at barriers on onward fish migration post-passage were observed but median catchment penetration was increased with consecutive release upstream. This study demonstrated the importance of a true understanding of barrier impacts to inform catchment-wide planning, evidence vital for management worldwide. Although the findings of this study do support the use of trap and transport as a measure to remediate barrier impacts on migration, fish passage engineering improvements or barrier removal, at structures shown to be the most inhibiting to fish migration should be considered the best and most sustainable option to improve barrier passage.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding was provided by the European Union European Marine and Fisheries Fund (ENG2130), coordinated by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lothian, Dr Angus
Creator Roles:
Lothian, A.J.Writing – review and editing, Visualization, Investigation, Software, Validation
Authors: Jubb, W.M., Noble, R.A.A., Dodd, J.R., Nunn, A.D., Lothian, A.J., Albright, A.J., Bubb, D.H., Lucas, M.C., and Bolland, J.D.
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Journal of Environmental Management
ISSN (Online):1095-8630
Published Online:22 February 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Environmental Management 355: 117488
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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