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Panfili, J., Darnaude, A. M., Lin, Y. J., Chevalley, M., Iizuka, Y., Tzeng, W. N., et al. (2012). Habitat residence during continental life of the European eel Anguilla anguilla investigated using linear discriminant analysis applied to otolith Sr:Ca ratios. Aquat. Biol., 15(2), 175–185.
Résumé: European eel Anguilla anguilla migratory behaviour during continental life is still unclear due to the multiplicity of aquatic environments colonised by the species. In the Camargue area (NW Mediterranean), eel colonisation of the Fumemorte canal, a freshwater habitat that communicates only with a vast brackish ecosystem (the Vaccares lagoon), offers a rare opportunity to test for freshwater habitat residence during continental life. To this end, both laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and electron probe micro-analysis were used to measure chronological variations of strontium concentrations (Sr:Ca) in the otoliths of 58 silver eels captured in the canal between 1997 and 2007. Comparing mean Sr: Ca ratios measured on otolith edges with the 2 analytical methods indicated that they provide comparable measurement accuracies. Linear discriminant analysis (LDA), based on the otolith Sr: Ca values corresponding to the initial entrance of the fish into the brackish ecosystem and their final capture in the freshwater canal, allowed successful discrimination of the 2 habitats and reconstruction of migratory history for all individuals. Six different migratory behaviours were identified. Eels that entered the freshwater canal did so either directly (67%) or after 1 to 2 yr spent in the lagoon (33%), with a subsequent majority of freshwater residents (55%) until their silvering. These results indicate the value of LDA for reconstructing habitat use during continental life using Sr: Ca ratios. They confirm the occurrence of freshwater residence during continental life in European eels, even in Mediterranean continental areas where brackish environments are predominant. This observed sedentary behaviour has implications for eel population management and conservation.