Biogeographical snapshot of life-history traits of European silver eels: insights from otolith microchemistry

TitleBiogeographical snapshot of life-history traits of European silver eels: insights from otolith microchemistry
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsTeichert, N, Bourillon, B, Suzuki, K, Acou, A, Carpentier, A, Kuroki, M, Righton, D, Trancart, T, Virag, L-S, Walker, A, Otake, T, Feunteun, E
JournalAquatic Sciences
Date PublishedJan-04-2023
KeywordsAnguilla anguilla, Biogeography, Brackish habitat, otolith, phenotypic plasticity, Sr:Ca ratio

Life-history traits of eels display a high level of phenotypic plasticity in response to large-scale biogeographical drivers, as well as local conditions encountered during the continental phase. Here, we provided a biogeographical snapshot of the variability of life-history traits of eels (Anguilla anguilla), across a large proportion of their natural distribution range. Silver eels (n = 99) were collected across eleven European catchments to investigate how life-history traits vary along geographical and saline habitats, as it was inferred from the Sr:Ca ratio in otoliths. Among 13 life-history traits tested, 3 of them such as total length, body or liver weight were related to geographical coordinates. Overall, eels grow faster in southern Europe and migrate earlier suggesting that the silvering process is related to the local growth conditions more than fish age. The salinity profiles revealed by the otoliths’ Sr:Ca ratios indicate that eels with a brackish life-history generally grow faster, reach larger size-at-age, and have a better condition than eels living in freshwater. This observation associated with the lower abundance of the sanguivorous swimbladder nematode, Anguillicola crassus, confirms the importance of brackish areas for sustaining the eel production. A large proportion of the observed variation of life-history traits remained unexplained by the biogeographical trends and salinity condition, which suggests that other drivers act at the catchment scale.

Short TitleAquat Sci
Catégorie HCERES
ACL - Peer-reviewed articles
Publication coopération et recherche SUD