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Substrate composition determines emergence success and development of European nase larvae (Chondrostoma nasus L.)

Christoffer Nagel, Joachim Pander, Melanie Mueller, Juergen Geist
Ecology of freshwater fish 2020 v.29 no.1 pp. 121-131
Chondrostoma nasus, Salmonidae, eggs, fish, gravel, habitat destruction, hatching, heat sums, larvae, ontogeny, rheophilic species, riparian areas, stream channels
European nase (Chondrostoma nasus) is a specialist riverine fish, characterised by a complex life cycle making it vulnerable to habitat degradation. Recent findings indicate that, analogously to salmonids, the interstitial zone quality may pose a serious bottleneck for successful recruitment of this species. In this study, nase eggs were exposed to different substrate qualities. First, standardised substrate mixtures with differing fine sediment additions were used. Second, we tested different homogenous gravel fractions for their influence on egg development and emergence success. In both setups, substrate composition significantly affected emergence success, timing of emergence and larvae size at emergence. In the substrate mixtures, emergence was most successful in substratum with no fine sediment addition (98%) and decreased to 55% in substratum with 20% fine sediment addition. Emergence was most successful in the coarsest fraction (93%) and decreased to 47% in the finest fraction. Over all treatments, the time between hatching and emergence from substrate differed by up to 156 degree days, thereby indicating that free embryos of nase use the shelter of the interstitial zone for early ontogeny. These results suggest that a loose and porous stream bed can positively contribute to the development success of eggs and larvae and thereby potentially improve the recruitment of nase populations. It is thus important to consider the substrate and interstitial conditions in the conservation and restoration management of this rheophilic cyprinid.