Synergistic patterns of threat and the challenges facing global anguillid eel conservation

Jacoby, David and Casselman, John M. and Crook, Vicki and DeLucia, Mari-Beth and Ahn, Hyojin and Kaifu, Kenzo and Kurwie, Tagried and Sasal, Pierre and Silfvergrip, Andres M. C. and Smith, Kevin G. and Uchida, Kazuo and Walker, Alan M. and Gollock, Matthew J. (2015) Synergistic patterns of threat and the challenges facing global anguillid eel conservation. Global Ecology and Conservation, 4. pp. 321-333. ISSN 2351-9894

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With broad distributions, diadromous fishes can be exposed to multiple threats at different stages of development. For the primarily catadromous eels of the family Anguillidae, there is growing international concern for the population abundance and escapement trends of some of these species and yet incomplete knowledge of their remarkable life-histories hampers management and conservation. Anguillids experience a suite of pressures that include habitat loss/modification, migration barriers, pollution, parasitism, exploitation, and fluctuating oceanic conditions that likely have synergistic and regionally variable impacts, even within species. In beginning to redress this rather fragmented picture, we evaluated the extinction risk of these species using the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Categories and Criteria to infer population-wide trends from catch and monitoring data. Here we consolidate and build upon these species assessments by presenting an overview of the current state of global eel data and conservation, categorising the knowledge gaps and geographic regions where resources are needed and discussing future recommendations to improve our understanding of anguillids. We find stark disparity between the quality and length of data available to assess population trends and conservation priorities in temperate and tropical anguillids. Of the 13 species assessed, four were listed as ‘Threatened’ (Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered); four were Near Threatened, three were Data Deficient and two were deemed Least Concern. Comparing with other diadromous species, we examine the multiple threats that impact eels during their different life-history stages, highlighting the challenges of applying the Red List Categories and Criteria to geographically-expansive, catadromous and panmictic groups of species.

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Journal Article
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Global Ecology and Conservation
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03 Feb 2022 13:55
Last Modified:
17 Sep 2023 03:11