Author

Ian Hetterich

Date of Award

2014

First Advisor

Robert Schmidt

Second Advisor

Donald Roeder

Abstract

The American eel, Anguilla rostrata, is a catadromous fish native with a range from northern South America through North America to the southern tip of Greenland. In recent decades their population has dropped significantly to the point where they are listed as endangered species by some countries. One of the main factors in this decline is the prevalence of dams and elevational obstacles in their upstream migration. For various reasons we are unable to remove most of these blockades, however, we can allow eels to circumvent them by the use of eel ladders. In order to conserve the American eel a better understanding of its biology and life cycle is required. This research focuses on the species rheotactic behavior and the cues responsible for upstream movement. Factors such as odor, temperature, and population density can play into an eel’s choice of current, or the decision to move in the first place. With a better understanding of how and why eels climb we could construct more efficient eel ladders to allow easier passage over dams.

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