Data from: Response of seaward migrating European eel (Anguilla anguilla) to manipulated flow fields
Piper, Adam T. et al. (2015), Data from: Response of seaward migrating European eel (Anguilla anguilla) to manipulated flow fields, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.c77jn
Anthropogenic structures (e.g. weirs and dams) fragment river networks and restrict the movement of migratory fish. Poor understanding of behavioural response to hydrodynamic cues at structures currently limits the development of effective barrier mitigation measures. This study aimed to assess the effect of flow constriction and associated flow patterns on eel behaviour during downstream migration. In a field experiment, we tracked the movements of 40 tagged adult European eels (Anguilla anguilla) through the forebay of a redundant hydropower intake under two manipulated hydrodynamic treatments. Interrogation of fish trajectories in relation to measured and modelled water velocities provided new insights into behaviour, fundamental for developing passage technologies for this endangered species. Eels rarely followed direct routes through the site. Initially, fish aligned with streamlines near the channel banks and approached the intake semi-passively. A switch to more energetically costly avoidance behaviours occurred on encountering constricted flow, prior to physical contact with structures. Under high water velocity gradients, fish then tended to escape rapidly back upstream, whereas exploratory ‘search’ behaviour was common when acceleration was low. This study highlights the importance of hydrodynamics in informing eel behaviour. This offers potential to develop behavioural guidance, improve fish passage solutions and enhance traditional physical screening.