Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

Is glass eel migration guided by pheromones of conspecifics?

Donor life stage influences juvenile American eel Anguilla rostrata attraction to conspecific chemical cues

Authors: Galbraith HS, Blakeslee CJ, Schmucker AK, Johnson NS, Hansen MJ, Li W
Source: Journal of Fish Biology, doi:10.1111/jfb.13190

Abstract: The present study investigated the potential role of conspecific chemical cues in inland juvenile American eel Anguilla rostrata migrations by assessing glass eel and 1 year old elver affinities to elver washings, and elver affinity to adult yellow eel washings. In two-choice maze assays, glass eels were attracted to elver washings, but elvers were neither attracted to nor repulsed by multiple concentrations of elver washings or to yellow eel washings. These results suggest that A. rostrata responses to chemical cues may be life-stage dependent and that glass eels moving inland may use the odour of the previous year class as information to guide migration. The role of chemical cues and olfaction in eel migrations warrants further investigation as a potential restoration tool.

Excerpt: “[…] The use of chemical cues in eel restoration may be as complex as synthesizing compounds for field application, or as simple as strategically manipulating populations of older conspecifics to guide migrating glass eels. In combination with other fish passage technologies (e.g. fish ladders, electrical guidance and attraction flows), chemical cues may provide an effective and sustainable method to enhance A. rostrata restoration.”

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