Eel Biology pp 191-213 | Cite as

A Review of Upstream Migration and Movements in Inland Waters by Anguillid Eels: Toward a General Theory

  • Eric Feunteun
  • Pascal Laffaille
  • Tony Robinet
  • Cèdric Briand
  • Aurore Baisez
  • Jean-Michel Olivier
  • Antony Acou


Anguillid eels are well known as catadromous highly migratory species, with marine spawning grounds well separated from inshore and inland growth areas. However, invasion mechanisms of river systems are poorly documented. This theory is based upon the identification of four distinct movement behaviors: „founders“ that colonize rivers until they settle in the first available suitable habitat they encounter; „pioneers“ that migrate upstream to the upper boundaries of the system; „home range dwellers“ that establish in a given area for several months to several years; and „nomads;“ which are erratic eels that perform a general upstream shift as they search for suitable areas to forage or to settle. These behaviors are not mutually exclusive, any eel shifting from one behavior to another, depending upon ontogenetic attributes (age, experience, morphology, physiological stage, etc.), population parameters that determine density-dependent movements; and environmental parameters such as food availability, temperature, flow, and the carrying capacity of the ecosystem.


Home Range River System Upstream Migration Home Range Behavior English Channel Coast 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adam G(1997) L’anguille europ éenne (Anguilla anguilla L. 1758): dynamique de la sous-population du lac de Grand-Lieu en relation avec les facteurs environnementaux et anthropiques. PhD dissertation, University of Toulouse 3, FranceGoogle Scholar
  2. Adam G, Elie P (1994) Mise en evidence des déplacements d’anguilless édentaires (Anguilla anguilla L.) en relation avecle cycle lunaire dansle lac de Grand-Lieu (Loire-Atlantique). Bull Fr P éche Piscic 335:123–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Akima H (1978) A method of bivariate interpolation and smooth surface fitting for irregularly distributed data points. ACM Trans Math Software 4:148–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aprahamian MW (1998) Age structure of eel, Anguilla anguilla (L.) populations in the River Severn, England and in the River Dee, Wales. Aquacult Fish Manag 19:365–376Google Scholar
  5. Baisez A (2001) Optimisation des suivis des indices d’abondances et des structures de taille de l’anguille europ éenne (Anguilla anguilla L.) dans un marais endigue de la cote Atlantique: relations esp éce - habitat. PhD dissertation, University of Toulouse 3, FranceGoogle Scholar
  6. Baisez A, Rigaud C, Feunteun E (2000) Heterogeneity of the European eel distribution (Anguilla anguilla) observed by electric fishing in a reclaimed marsh of the French Atlantic coast (Marais Breton). Cybium 34:23–32Google Scholar
  7. Baras E, Jeandrain D, Serouge B, Philippart JC (1998) Seasonal variations in time and space utilization by radio-tagged yellow eels Anguilla anguilla (L.) in a small stream. Hydrobiologia 371/372:187–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beumer JP (1979) Feeding and movement of Anguilla australis and A. reinhardtii in Macleods Morass, Vistoria, Australia. J Fish Biol 14:573–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bohun S, Winn HE (1966) Locomotor activity of the American eel (Anguilla rostrata). Chesapeake Sci 7:137–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bozeman EL, Helfman GS, Richardson T (1985) Population size and home range of American eels in a Georgia tidal creek. Trans Am Fish Soc 114:821–825CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Briand C, Feunteun E, Fatin D, Fontenelle G (2000a) Assessment of markrecapture methods for glass eels (Anguilla anguilla) in Vilaine estuary, France. In: International congress on eel research. North American Fishery Society, St. Louis, MOGoogle Scholar
  12. Briand C, Feunteun E, Fatin D, Fontenelle G (2000b) Development of a validated stock recruit model (Anguilla anguilla) in Vilaine estuary, France. In: International congress on eel research. North American Fishery Society, St. Louis, MOGoogle Scholar
  13. Briand C, Fatin D, Fontenelle G, Feunteun E. Estuarine and fluvial recruitment of European glass eel in an Atlantic exploited estuary. Fish Manag Ecol. (in press)Google Scholar
  14. Broad TL, Townsend CR, Arbuckle CJ, Jellyman DJ (2001) A model to predict the presence of longfin eels in some New Zealand streams, with particular reference to riparian vegetation and elevation. J Fish Biol 58:1098–1112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Burnet AMR (1969) The growth of New Zealand freshwater eels in three Canterbury streams. N Z J Mar Freshw Res 3:376–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Caron F, Verreault G, Rochard E (2000) Estimation du nombre d’anguilles d’Amérique (Anguilla rostrata) quittant le bassin versant du Saint-Laurent et de son taux d’exploitation. Societe de la faune et des par cs du Quebec, p 45Google Scholar
  17. Chisnall BL, Hicks BJ (1993) Age and growth of longfinned eels (Anguilla dieffenbachii) in pastoral and forested streams in the Waikato River basin and in two hydro-electric lakes in the North Island, New Zealand. N Z J Mar Freshw Res 27:317–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chisnall BL, Kalish JM (1993) Age validation and movement of freshwater eels (Anguilla dieffenbachii and A. australis) in a New Zealand pastoral stream. N Z J Mar Freshw Res 27:333–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Corsi F, Ardizzone GD (1985) Some environmental conditions affecting yellow eels catchability. Oebalia 11:561–571Google Scholar
  20. Deelder CL (1952) On the migration of the elver (Anguilla vulgaris Turt.) at sea. J Cons Int Explor Mer 20:187–218Google Scholar
  21. Dutil JD, Giroux A, Kemp A, Lavoie G, Dallaire JP (1988) Tidal influence on movements and on daily cycle of activity of American eels. Trans Am Fish Soc 117:488–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Edel RK (1976) Activity rhythms of maturing American eels (Anguilla rostrata). Mar Biol 36:283–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Feunteun E, Rigaud C, Elie P, Lefeuvre JC (1992) Les marais doux endigu és de BourgneufMachecoul (Pays de la Loire). Premiers elements de connaissance du peuplement piscicole. Relation ichtyofaune-habitat et probl èmes majeurs de gestion. Rev Sci Eau 5:509–528Google Scholar
  24. Feunteun E, Acou A, Guillouët J, Laffaille P, Legault A (1998) Spatial distribution of an eel population (Anguilla anguilla L.) in a small coastal catchment of Northern Brittany (France). Consequences of hydraulic works. Bull Fr P êche Piscic 349:129–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Feunteun E, Rigaud C, Elie P, Lefeuvre JC (1999) Les peuplements piscicoles des marais littoraux endigu és Atlantiques: un patrimoine a g érer? Le cas du marais de Bourgneuf Machecoul (Loire-Atlantique, France). Bull Fr P êche Piscic 352:63–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Feunteun E, Acou A, Laffaille P, Legault A (2000a) European eel (Anguilla anguilla): prediction of spawner escapement from continental population parameters. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 57:1627–1635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Feunteun E, Boullier J, Briaudet PE, Laffaille P (2000b) L’anguille du Rhone aval: etude préalableè lélaboration d’un protocols de suivi et de restauration. Report 1. University of Rennes, FranceGoogle Scholar
  28. Feunteun E,Aoyama J, Casamajor MN, Dumont P, Jellyman D, Laffaille P (in press) Eels (Anguilla spp.): commercially important catadromous fish fisheries. In: Tolba MK (ed) Our Fragile World: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Development. UNESCO. Encyclopaedia of Life Support System, p 2300Google Scholar
  29. Ford TE, Mercer E (1986) Density, size distribution and home range of American eels, Anguilla rostrata, in a Massachusetts salt marsh. Environ Biol Fishes 17:309–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gandolfi G, Pesaro M, Tongiogi P (1984) Environmental factors affecting the ascent of elver, Anguilla anguilla (L.) into the Arno River. Oebalia 5:17–35Google Scholar
  31. Glova GJ (1988) Fish density variations in the braided Ashley River, Canterbury, New Zealand. N Z J Mar Freshw Res 22:9–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Glova GJ, Jellyman DJ (2000) Size-related differences in diel activity of two species of juvenile eel (Anguilla) in a laboratory stream. Ecol Freshw Fish 9:210–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Glova GJ, Bonnet ML, Docherty CR (1985) Comparison of fish populations in riffles of three braided rivers of Canterbury, New Zealand. N Z J Mar Freshw Res 19:157–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Glova GJ, Jellyman DJ, Bonnet ML (1998) Factors associated with the distribution and habitat of eels (Anguilla spp.) in three New Zealand lowland streams. N Z J Mar Freshw Res 32:255–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Guillouët J, Acou A, Mounaix B, Legault A, Feunteun E (2000) Etude de la restauration de la population d’anguille sur le Fr émur : synth èse du suivi de 1995 a 1999. Report Fish-Pass, Federation APPMA, vol 35. University of Rennes 1, FranceGoogle Scholar
  36. Gunning GE, Shoop CR (1962) Restricted movements of the American eel Anguilla rostrata (LeSeur) in freshwater streams with comments on growth rate. Tulane Stud Zool 9:265–272Google Scholar
  37. Haro AJ, Krueger WH (1988) Pigmentation, size, and migration of elvers Anguilla rostrata (LeSueur) in a coastal Rhode Island stream. Can J Zool 66:528–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hayes JW, Leathwick JR, Hanhcet SM (1989) Fish distribution patterns and their association with environmental factors in the Mokau River catchment, New Zealand. N Z J Mar Freshw Res 23:171–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Helfman GS, Stoneburner DL, Bozeman EL, Christian PA, Whalen R (1983) Ultrasonic telemetry of American eel movements in a tidal creek. Trans Am Fish Soc 112:105–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Helfman GS, Facey DE, Hales LS, Bozeman EJ Jr (1987) Reproductive ecology of the American eel. Am Fish Soc Symp 1:42–61Google Scholar
  41. Jellyman D J (1977) Summer upstream migration of juvenile freshwater eels in New Zealand. NZJ Mar Freshw Res 11:61–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Jellyman DJ (1979) Upstream migration of glass-eels (Anguilla spp.) in New Zealand. N Z J Mar Freshw Res 13:13–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Jellyman DJ (1989) Diet of two species of freshwater eel (Anguilla spp.) in Lake Pounui, New Zealand. NZJ Mar Freshw Res 23:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Jellyman DJ (1991) Factors affecting the activity of two species of eel (Anguilla spp.) in a small New Zealand lake. J Fish Biol 39:7–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Jellyman D J (1997) Variability in growth rates of freshwater eels (Anguilla spp.) in New Zealand. Ecol Freshw Fish 6:108–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Jellyman DJ, Chisnall BL (1999) Habitat preferences of shortfinned eels (Anguilla australis), in two New Zealand lowland lakes. N Z J Mar Freshw Res 33:233–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Jellyman DJ, Ryan CM (1983) Seasonal migration of elvers (Anguilla spp.) into Lake Pounui, New Zealand, 1974–1978. N Z J Mar Freshw Res 17:1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Jellyman DJ, Glova PR, Todd PR (1996) Movements of shortfinned eels, Anguilla australis, in Lake Ellesmer, New Zealand: results from mark-recepture studies and sonic tracking. NZJMar Freshw Res 30:371–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Jonsson N (1991) Influence of water flow, water temperature and light on fish migration in rivers. Nord J Freshw Res 66:20–35Google Scholar
  50. Kawakami Y, Mochioka N, Nakazono A (1999) Immigration patterns of glass-eels Anguilla japonica entering river in northern Kyushu, Japan. Bull Mar Sci 64:315–327Google Scholar
  51. LaBar GW, Hernando C, Delgado CF (1987) Local movements and population size of European eels, Anguilla anguilla, in a small lake in southwestern Spain. Environ Biol Fishes 19:111–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Laffaille P, Feunteun E (1998) Etat de la population d’anguille europ éenne (Anguilla anguilla L.) du bassin versant del Arguenon. Report of the University of Rennes 1, FranceGoogle Scholar
  53. Laffaille P, Feunteun E, Acou A, Lefeuvre JC (2000) Role of European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) in the transfer of organic matter between marine and freshwater systems. Verh Int Verein Limnol 27:616–619Google Scholar
  54. Lamothe PJ, Gallagher M, Chivers DP, Moring JR (2000) Homing and movement of yellowphase American eels in freshwater ponds. Environ Biol Fishes 58:393–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Legault A (1994) Etude pr éliminaire du recrutment de l’anguille. Bull Fr Péche Piscic 335:33–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Legault A (1996) Colonisation dynamics of a catchment area by eel. Characterisation of migrating populations in a free access river. In: Leclerc et al (eds) Proceedings of 2nd international symposium on habitat hydraulics, vol A. INRS-EAU/IAHR, Quebec, Canada, pp 89–98Google Scholar
  57. Lek S, Belaud A, Baran P, Dimopoulos I, Delacoste M (1996) Role of some environmental variables in trout abundance models using neural networks. Aquat Living Resour 9:23–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Lévêque C(1995) L’habitat: etre au bon endroit au bon moment? Bull Fr Péche Piscic 337/338/ 339:9–20Google Scholar
  59. Lobon-Cervia J, Bernat Y, Rincon PA (1990) Effects of eel (Anguilla anguilla) removals from selected sites of a stream on its subsequent densities. Hydrobiologia 206:207–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Lobon-Cervia J, Utrilla CG, Rincon PA (1995) Variations in the population dynamics of the European eel Anguilla anguilla (L.) along the course of a Cantabrian river. Ecol Freshw Fish 4:17–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Mann H (1965) Über das Rückkehrvermogen verpflanzter FlußAale. Arch Fischwiss 15:177–185Google Scholar
  62. McDowall RM (1990) New Zealand freshwater fishes: a natural history and guide. Report Auckland, Heinemann-Reed, AucklandGoogle Scholar
  63. Michel P, Oberdorff T (1995) Feeding habits of fourteen European freshwater fish species. Cybium 19:5–49Google Scholar
  64. Moriarty C (1986) Riverine migration of young eels Anguilla anguilla (L.). Fish Res 4:43–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Moriarty C (1987) Factors influencing recruitment of the Atlantic species of anguillid eels. Am Fish Soc Symp 1:483–491Google Scholar
  66. Moriarty C, Dekker W (eds) (1997) Management of the Europeaneel. Ir Fish Bull 15Google Scholar
  67. Naismith IA, Knights B (1993) The distribution, density and growth of the European eel,Anguilla anguilla, in the freshwater catchment of the River Thames. J Fish Biol 42:217–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Nyman L (1972) Some effects of the temperature on eel (Anguilla) behavior. Rep Inst Freshw Res Drottningholm 52:90–102Google Scholar
  69. Oliveira K (1997) Movements and growth rates of yellow-phase American eels in the Annaquatucket River, Rhode Island. Trans Am Fish Soc 126:638–646CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Parker SJ (1995) Homing ability and home range of yellow-phase American eels in a tidally dominated estuary. J Mar Biol Assoc U K 75:127–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Parker SJ, McCleave JD (1997) Selective tidal stream transport by American eels during homing movements and estuarine migration. J Mar Biol Assoc U K 77:871–889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Pollard E, Lakhani PH, Rotheri PH (1987) The detection of density dependence from a series of annual censuses. Ecology 68:2046–2055CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Robinet T, Feunteun E (2002) First observations of shortfinned Anguilla bicolor bicolor and longfinned Anguilla marmorata silver eels in the Reunion Island. Bull Fr P éche Piscic 364:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Rumelhart DE, Hinton GE, Williams RJ (1986) Learning representations by back-propagation error. Nature (Lond) 323:533–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Ryan PA (1984) Diel and seasonal feeding activity of the shortfinned eel, Anguilla australis schmidtii, in Lake Ellesmere, Canterbury, New Zealand. Environ Biol Fishes 11:229–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Sagar PM, Glova GJ (1998) Diel feeding and prey selection of three size classes of shortfinned eel (Anguilla australis) in New Zealand. N Z J Mar Freshw Res 49:421–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Secor DH, Morrison WE (2001) Movement and habitat use by yellow phase American eels in estuaries. In: Aida K, Tsukamoto K, Yamauchi K (eds) Proceeding of the international symposium: advances in eel biology, 28–30 September 2001, Tokyo, Japan, pp 43–45Google Scholar
  78. Sloane RD (1984a) Invasion and upstream migration by glass-eels of Anguilla australis australis Richardson and A. reinhardtii Steindachner in Tansmanian freshwater streams. Aust J Mar Freshw Res 35:47–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Sloane RD (1984b) Distribution, abundance, growth and food of freshwater eels (Anguilla australis australis Richardson) in Tasmania. Aust J Mar Freshw Res 35:325–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Smogor RA, Angermeier PL, Gaylord CK (1995) Distribution and abundance of American eels in Virginia streams: tests of null models across spatial scales. Trans Am Fish Soc 124:789–803CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Sorensen PW, Bianchini M, Winn HE (1986) Diel foraging activity of American eels, Anguilla rostrata(LeSeur), in a Rhode Island estuary. Fish Bull 84:746–747Google Scholar
  82. Sugeha HY, Arai T, Miller MJ, Limbong D, Tsukamoto K (2001) Inshore migration of the tropical eels Anguilla spp. recruiting to the Poigar River estuary on north Sulawesi Island. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 221:233–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Tesch FW (1977) The eel. Biology and management of anguillid eels. Chapman Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  84. Tsukamoto K, Arai T (2001) Facultative catadromy of the eel Anguilla japonica between freshwater and seawater habitats. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 220:265–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Tsukamoto K, Nakai I, Tesch FW (1998) Do all freshwater eels migrate? Nature (Lond) 396:635–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Tzeng WN (1985) Immigration timing and activity rhythms of the eel, Anguilla japonica elvers in the estuary of northern Taiwan, with emphasis on environmental influences. Bull Jpn Soc Fish Oceanogr 47:11–28Google Scholar
  87. Tzeng WN, Cheng PW, Lin FY (1995) Relative abundance, sex ratio and population structure of the Japanese eel Anguilla japonica in the Tanshui River system of northern Taiwan. J Fish Biol 46:183–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Tzeng WN, Wang CH, Wickstrom H, Reizenstein M (2000) Occurrence of the semi-catadromous European eel Anguilla anguilla in the Baltic Sea. Mar Biol 137:93–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Vollestadt LA, Jonsson B (1988) A 13-year study of the population dynamics and growth of the European eel Anguilla anguilla in Norwegian river: evidence for density dependent mortality and development of a model for predicting yield. J Anim Ecol 57:983–997CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Vollestadt LA, Jonsson B, Hvidsten NA, Naesje TF, Haraldstad O, Ruud-Hansen J (1986) Environmental factors regulating the seaward migration of European silver eels (Anguilla anguilla). Can J Fish Aquat Sci 43:1909–1916CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Westin L, Nyman L (1979) Activity, orientation, and migration of Baltic eel (Anguilla anguilla L.). Rapp P-V R éun CIEM 174:115–123Google Scholar
  92. White E, Knights B (1997a) Dynamics of upstream migration of the European eel, Anguilla anguilla L., with special reference to the effects of man-made barriers. Fish Manag Ecol 4:311–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. White E, Knights B (1997b) Environmental factors affecting migration of the European eel in the Rivers Severn and Avon, England. J Fish Biol 50:1104–1116CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Tokyo 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Feunteun
    • 1
  • Pascal Laffaille
    • 1
  • Tony Robinet
    • 1
  • Cèdric Briand
    • 2
  • Aurore Baisez
    • 3
  • Jean-Michel Olivier
    • 4
  • Antony Acou
    • 1
  1. 1.LBEMUniversity of La RochelleLa RochelleFrance
  2. 2.Institut d’Aménagement de la VilaineLa Roche BernardFrance
  3. 3.CEMAGREFBordeauxFrance
  4. 4.Université de LyonLyonFrance

Personalised recommendations