Furthermore, there is growing support for habitat creation or enhancements that could facilitate the recovery of European eel stocks. This aims to return European eel stocks (adults and glass eels) to sustainable levels. In contrast, however, medium- to large-sized eels (body length more than 300 mm) do not appear to show any preference of water velocities. This month we hear from Matthew Cook on a day working as a Peatland Action Project Officer. When you consider the presence of structural habitat features, however, it appears that there might be more of a pattern to eel distribution, at least in freshwaters. Factors such as water velocity and depth appear to have some influence on eel presence, with evidence to support a preference by smaller eels (less than 300-mm total body length) for water velocities more than 0.1 m.s-1. To date, most efforts have focused on installing eel passes to aid upstream migration of eels in rivers and installing screens or other technologies to prevent or reduce entrainment/impingement of eels at water abstractions. Not from behind the computer but in its natural habitat. Adult eels do not le… It’s only on reaching the European continental shelf that they metamorphose into the cylindrical shape we associate with eels. The adult eel spends most of its life in fresh water estuarine habitats, but migrates to the Atlantic Ocean for spawning. TRAFFICis introducing … Safe havens during dry periods are obviously also important. During migration the eels do not feed. The magazine provides a dynamic platform for people to exchange ideas, promote discussion and supply information to those with a ‘professional’ interest in the natural world. Other, more expensive, options include creating backwater refuges or wetland/pond systems connected to rivers. Contrastingly, the la… As you imply, it’s perhaps time to move away from the focus on eel passage improvements and instead perhaps start looking at eel habitat improvements. With European eel stocks considered ‘outside of safe biological limits’ (ICES, 2006), the European Commission (EC) brought in a regulation in 2007 to help recover eel stocks to a more sustainable level. This is likely to require changes to management regimes and, in some cases, undertaking habitat improvements. Online Magazine for Ecologists, Conservationists and Wildlife Professionals, one reported to survive in a Swedish well until it was over 155 years old. Registered office: Stanley House, 49 Dartford Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 3TE. Inside Ecology Ltd will use the information you provide on the sign-up form below to send you our occasional Newsletter. We use cookies to provide you with a better service. Their appearance isn’t just based on the length of their bodies, but also revolves around the composition of their fins. After spawning in the Sargasso Sea, the eel’s eggs are assumed to drift eastwards towards Europe with the Gulf Stream. People have exploited the European eel at all of its life stages for centuries, and the fish has supported a number of large-scale commercial fisheries across Europe. Evidence also suggests that structural heterogeneity within water bodies influences the abundance of macroinvertebrates (Walker et al., 2013), which are an important component of many eels’ diets. In recent decades, this species has undergone a dramatic decline throughout its range. The European eel is widely distributed within European freshwaters and can be found in a wide variety of freshwater and estuarine habitats. A featureless watercourse comprising poor quality habitat for eels (Photo credit ©Peter Walker). silt) to burrow into. Walker, P.D., Wijnhoven, S. and van der Velde, G. (2013), ‘Macrophyte presence and growth form influence macroinvertebrate community structure’, Aquatic Botany, 104: 80–87. The Wild Trout Trust believes that the presence of trout in a watercourse indicates the river ecosystem is in a relatively good state. The Author using a bathyscope to look for submerged refuges for eels (Photo credit ©Peter Walker). There have also been restocking efforts in some places. The cold months are spent in hibernation (Reshetnikov 2003; Froese and Pauly 2005). What is being done? We need more people who look at the eel. No one has therefore established whether eels have specific habitat needs or preferences. MORE, Contact us – Email info (at) insideecology.com. Restricting rivers and coasts affects water and sediment flows, which can destroy wildlife habitat and reduce landscape value and diversity. Their rostrum, or snout, also comes to something of a point. The eel crisis West Sutherland Fisheries Trust. The European eel is a catadromous and carnivorous species. Communities Project for Highland Biodiversity Ref: CPHB12’, May, 44 pp. Please read our Privacy Policy. The European eel hasn’t been heavily fished within Scotland, though limited exploitation has taken place in some localities. Facts about Eels 4: … Does this mean that a good habitat for eels is long thin tubular things? About the Author: Dr Peter Walker is a principal aquatic consultant for the ecology consultancy team at RSK, a multidisciplinary environmental consultancy. Fewer than one in 500 eel larvae are thought to survive the long, hard journey from the Sargasso Sea to Europe. Seasonal and tidal swamps are ideal for eel when feeding. He can be contacted via email at pwalker@rsk.co.uk. During the last few decades, the global European eel population has undergone a catastrophic decline, with numbers estimated at just 5% of what they were in the 1970s, before the population crash. Recent evidence suggests that this decline is ongoing and the European eel is included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List as a critically endangered species (ICES, 2015). Smaller eels are quite adept at manoeuvring their way through dense roots systems and plants where the spaces between structures are quite small. The smallest species measure just a few inches long. There is of course then a need to monitor improvements to determine if they have been successful in increasing eel densities. Each species looks slightly different from the next. The adult European eel (Anguilla anguilla) can reach lengths of 1.5 m, is silver in color, and has a long cylindrical body with small slits for gill openings. The widespread decline in European eels has led the European Commission has developed an eel recovery plan (Council Regulation No. Notwithstanding this, the simple fact remains that no one really knows the cause of the decline. Elvers and very small eels have been reported as using fine substrate (e.g. Where such structures are lacking, eels will be more susceptible to predation. No silver eels – the migratory adult form – have ever been caught in the open ocean. The silence was not entirely unexpected. On entering freshwater, glass eels darken in colour as pigmentation takes place. There are many reasons cited as possible causes or contributory factors to the eel decline, including global climate change, changes in oceanic current patterns, over exploitation, habitat loss/degradation, pollution, parasitic infections, man-made obstacles in rivers, and entrainment/impingement at water abstractions. A flow gauging weir providing a potential obstacle to eels (Photo credit ©Peter Walker).

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