Main content area

Assessing the Efficiency of an Elver Ladder Using a Multi‐State Mark–Recapture Model

Drouineau, H., Rigaud, C., Laharanne, A., Fabre, R., Alric, A., Baran, P.
River research and applications 2015 v.31 no.3 pp. 291-300
Anguilla anguilla, eel, environmental factors, models, probability, rivers, watersheds
The decline of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) stock has led the European Commission to enforce a regulation (Council Regulation N° 1100/2007), in which each member state was required to establish an eel management plan. Various measures in the French plan aim at restoring river connectivity by mitigating the impact of obstacles on the colonization of continental water by eels. Consequently, many obstacles are going to be equipped with elver ladder in the near future. In this context, a method to assess the passability of an obstacle seems essential. In this study, we developed a tag–recapture method, appropriate to glass eels and elvers, and an associated multi‐state mark–recapture model (i) to assess the passability of a ladder and (ii) to quantify the effect of various environmental factors on this passability. An application to a specific obstacle is applied as an illustrative example that demonstrates the relevance of the assessment method, and how the results can be used to propose technical solution to improve the efficiency of the ladder. Nine tag–recapture campaigns were carried on this obstacle, and about 4400 young eels were tagged. The model demonstrates that the efficiency of the ladder was rather low, especially during low river flow periods, mainly because of accessibility problems. The model also demonstrates the major influence of the river flow on the probability for an eel to pass the ladder; consequently, managing river flow during the migration period can be a relevant measure to improve river connectivity and facilitate colonization of the watershed.