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Freshwater eels: A symbol of the effects of global change

Abstract : Temperate eels Anguilla anguilla (European eel), A. rostrata (American eel) and A. japonica (Japanese eel) are three catadromous species which have been declining since the 1970s/1980s despite their remarkable adaptive capacity. Because of their specific life cycles, which share distant oceanic spawning grounds and continental growth stage, eels are affected by five components of the global change: (a) climate change affecting larval survival and drift, (b) an increase in pollution leading to high levels of contamination exacerbated by their high lipid levels, (c) increasing fragmentation and habitat loss that reduce dramatically the amount of available habitats and induce increased spawner mortality, (d) the appearance of Anguillicola crassus a parasitic alien nematode that impairs spawning success, and (e) the impact of commercial and recreational fisheries for all life stages of eel. In this context, the rapid increases of pressures during the "Great Acceleration" have surpassed the adaptive capacity of eels. This illustrates that cumulative effects of global change can lead to the collapse of species, even in species that have amazingly high adaptive capacities.
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Hilaire Drouineau, Caroline Durif, M. Castonguay, M. Mateo, Eric Rochard, et al.. Freshwater eels: A symbol of the effects of global change. Fish and Fisheries, Wiley-Blackwell, 2018, 19 (5), pp.903-930. ⟨10.1111/faf.12300⟩. ⟨hal-02068781⟩



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