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See detailWhat happens to glass eels after restocking in upland rivers? A long‐term study on their dispersal and behavioural traits
Nzau Matondo, Billy ULiege; Séleck, Emilie; Dierckx, Arnaud ULiege et al

in Aquatic Conservation (2019)

The European eel Anguilla anguilla is a critically endangered fish species as a result of human activities and climate change in river and oceanic ecosystems. Restocking using glass eels in continental ... [more ▼]

The European eel Anguilla anguilla is a critically endangered fish species as a result of human activities and climate change in river and oceanic ecosystems. Restocking using glass eels in continental freshwater areas is a potential conservation measure for enhancing local eel stocks and for conserving the species in aquatic habitats, where it may otherwise disappear. However, little is known about the fate of these restocked individuals and the early ecological behaviour of the young eels translocated in rivers.A portable radio‐frequency identification (RFID) telemetry system and 12‐mm tags were used to track restocked eels for a duration of 4 years. The aim was to understand the early movement, behavioural traits, dispersal, and habitat use of elvers after restocking performed in 2013 with glass eels in a shallow riverine environment.From the 241 tagged eels (total length, Q50 = 152 mm), 85% were detected in 1968 positions during a period of 4 years, beginning in 2014. Clear seasonality in eel activity was observed, with higher mobility in summer when the water temperature was high (above 12°C). Dispersal was slowed by numerous artificial obstacles and the high carrying capacity of habitats. There was a negative relationship between the body size of eels at tagging and their mobility. Five behavioural categories of mobility patterns were identified: ascending, descending, oscillating with an upstream trend, oscillating with a downstream trend, and stationary. The first four categories depleted with time, in favour of stationary individuals that displayed a highly sedentary lifestyle.This study provides new knowledge of the long‐term dispersal behaviour of restocked eels and the influence of seasons, barriers, and habitats on their colonization strategy changing with time. The results contribute to a better understanding of the issue of uncommon restocking practices in upland rivers. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluation de la qualité biologique des rivières wallonnes sur base des indices biologiques poissons
Dierckx, Arnaud ULiege; Benitez, Jean-Philippe ULiege; Rimbaud, Gilles ULiege et al

Report (2018)

Ce document reprend les informations recueillies dans le cadre d’un travail effectué par l’Université de Liège pour le compte du Service public de Wallonie-DEMNA et financé dans le cadre d’un marché ... [more ▼]

Ce document reprend les informations recueillies dans le cadre d’un travail effectué par l’Université de Liège pour le compte du Service public de Wallonie-DEMNA et financé dans le cadre d’un marché public de services qui a pour objectif l’évaluation de la qualité biologique des eaux de surface basée sur les indices biologiques « poissons » dans seize cours d’eau de Wallonie. [less ▲]

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See detailMovement behaviours of potamodromous fish within a large anthropised river after the reestablishment of the longitudinal connectivity
Benitez, Jean-Philippe ULiege; Dierckx, Arnaud ULiege; Nzau Matondo, Billy ULiege et al

in Fisheries Research (2018), 207

Human activity has caused longitudinal fragmentation of many rivers. Fishways have been installed worldwide, but their successive use by potamodromous species remains poorly documented, particularly in ... [more ▼]

Human activity has caused longitudinal fragmentation of many rivers. Fishways have been installed worldwide, but their successive use by potamodromous species remains poorly documented, particularly in large river ecosystems. Four vertical slot fishways were installed within a 32-km stretch of the lower Belgian Meuse River basin. From 2012 to 2016, n=532 individuals belonging to 11 potamodromous fish species (rheophilic, limnophilic and large carnivorous) were continuously captured in the most downstream fishway (M0), tagged with an RFID transponder and released upstream. These could be further detected in upstream river part within three fishways (M1 and M2 in the Meuse, and O1 in an important tributary, the Ourthe) that were equipped with RFID detection stations. In the first downstream stretch (13 km from M0 to M1) we quantified an ascending rate until M1 (number of individuals detected in M1/ number of individuals tagged in M0) of 32.9% including all individuals tagged, with a maximum value of 67.2% for chub (Squalius cephalus), 40% for pike (Esox Lucius) and 35.5% for nase (Chondrostoma nasus), and a progression time M0 to M1 of 1.1 days per kilometre (d/km), with trout (Salmo trutta) as the fastest species (0.3 d/km). Upstream of the M1 fishway, many individuals of rheophilic species (trout and barbel, Barbus barbus) preferred to enter in the Ourthe tributary (detection at the Ourthe fishway) unlike the upstream Meuse (detection at the most upstream fishway in the Meuse), demonstrating a new accessibility to more adapted spawning sites. Most fish were present within fishways mainly in spring during the circum-spawning migration, and during summer and autumn for dispersal and/or seeking-refuge. The diel activity cycle varied depending on the species, with detection during the entire diel cycle (e.g. chub and barbel), during the day (e.g. trout) and during the night (e.g. catfish, Silurus glanis). The installation of fishways in the degraded river Meuse can be considered adequate for the restoration of the free movement because potamodromous species demonstrated their ability to migrate over long distances (> 20 km) and to reach potential spawning habitats through the reopened access to a tributary. [less ▲]

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See detailReport on the eel stock, fishery and other impacts, in: Belgium 2018
Belpaire, Claude; Breine, Jan; Van Wichelen, Jeroen et al

Report (2018)

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See detailRapport de convention sur la Réhabilitation du Saumon Atlantique dans le bassin de la Meuse
Ovidio, Michaël ULiege; Dierckx, Arnaud ULiege; Benitez, Jean-Philippe ULiege et al

Report (2018)

Le présent rapport d’activités intègre les travaux des deux équipes universitaires de Namur et de Liège dans la cadre de la convention relative à la réhabilitation du saumon atlantique dans le bassin de ... [more ▼]

Le présent rapport d’activités intègre les travaux des deux équipes universitaires de Namur et de Liège dans la cadre de la convention relative à la réhabilitation du saumon atlantique dans le bassin de la Meuse. [less ▲]

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See detailDecreased stock entering the Belgian Meuse is associated with the loss of colonisation behaviour in yellow-phase European eels
Nzau Matondo, Billy ULiege; Ovidio, Michaël ULiege

in Aquatic Living Resources (2018), 31(7),

The upstream migratory behaviour of yellow-phase European eels was investigated in regulated inland rivers (>320 km upstream the sea), where the stock is in drastic decline. From 2010 to 2015, eels ... [more ▼]

The upstream migratory behaviour of yellow-phase European eels was investigated in regulated inland rivers (>320 km upstream the sea), where the stock is in drastic decline. From 2010 to 2015, eels entering the Belgian Meuse River (n = 1357; total length, 231–755mm) were caught in fish passes, tagged with a pit-tag and released. Their upstream movements were tracked during the next six consecutive years, using three detection stations installed in vertical-slot fish passes of the Meuse and its Ourthe tributary. Among the 1357 eels tagged, 27.6% (n = 374 individuals) were detected at one or more of the three upstream detection stations. Only 6.6% (n = 89) of tagged eels were detected at the two subsequent stations. In this last group, most of the detected eels continued to move upstream through the Meuse rather than leaving it for the Ourthe.Water temperature >13 °C, river flow 24–226m3/s, dark time 00:00–05:00 h and the spring–summer seasons were the most important cues for upstream migration. Temperatures and flows at detection did not differ between size classes of ascending eels, while the detection period was earlier and daily speed was faster in large (>450 mm) eels. However, small ( 300mm) eels moved further upstream at slow speeds because they alternated between short periods of movement and long stationary periods. This behaviour suggests the existence of a few nomad individuals and probably more home range dwellers in the entering population. Small eels were better suited to colonise upper rivers. [less ▲]

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See detailBelgium eel country report 2018 for the WG eel
Belpaire, Claude; Breine, Jan; Jeroen, Van Wichelen et al

Conference given outside the academic context (2018)

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See detailLong-term monitoring of European eels in the Belgian Meuse River basin. From the historical drastic decline to recent outcomes of restocking practices.
Nzau Matondo, Billy ULiege; Dierckx, Arnaud ULiege; Benitez, Jean-Philippe ULiege et al

Conference (2017, June)

Long-term monitoring of yellow- and glass eel stages were performed in upland areas (>300km from sea) in order (i) to quantify the decline of wild yellow eels entering in the Belgian Meuse from the ... [more ▼]

Long-term monitoring of yellow- and glass eel stages were performed in upland areas (>300km from sea) in order (i) to quantify the decline of wild yellow eels entering in the Belgian Meuse from the Netherlands; (ii) to follow their upstream individual colonization; and (iii) to analyze the adaptation of young eels stocked as glass eels imported from UK. By monitoring a fish pass from 1992 to 2016, we quantified that the number of ascending eels has declined from n=5613 in 1992 to n=21 in 2016 (3.99%/year) and the mean length of eels has increased (4.1mm/year). During 6-years, upstream individual colonization of eels (2010-2015, n=1371) was followed using fixed RFIDtracking system. Few eels continued to migrate 4 years after tagging (<0.3%) and at >20km upstream (3.7%); and velocity of eels varied between individuals (0.012- 3.1km/day). In a 4-year (2013-2016) monitoring study of restocked glass eels using electrofishing and mobile RFID-tracking campaigns, we observed that eels grew rapidly in upland small brooks and recruitment was better in rivers with high carrying capacity (>15.8%, 2years post-stocking). Restocked eels dispersed in up- and downstream directions with behaviors including sedentary, nomadic and intermediate lifestyles. This suggests stocking as potential management measure to enhance local eel stocks. [less ▲]

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See detailAssessment of the entering stock, migration dynamics and fish pass fidelity of european eel in the belgian meuse river
Nzau Matondo, Billy ULiege; Benitez, Jean-Philippe ULiege; Dierckx, Arnaud ULiege et al

in River Research and Applications (2017), 33

Migration dynamics of incoming eels in Belgium via Lixhe in the Meuse River were investigated using two fish passes with different configurations— net traps and automatic detection stations—as tools to ... [more ▼]

Migration dynamics of incoming eels in Belgium via Lixhe in the Meuse River were investigated using two fish passes with different configurations— net traps and automatic detection stations—as tools to distinguish resident and migrating eels. From April to September 2013, 435 eels (P50 length, 403 mm; range, 196–836 mm) were caught (daily maxima catch, 90 eels per day), 90% between 13 June and 1 August (50 days) and P50 on 19 July. Eels migrated mostly at 19–26 °C (P50, 24.4 °C), river discharge 65–314m3 s 1 (P50, 84m3 s 1), during the dark at 00:00–05:00 h and during both the waxing and waning phases of moonlight. From 396 eels tagged and released 0.3 km downstream of the Lixhe dam, 6.8% of them were recaptured, and 37.4% were detected. Migration flux was estimated at 7184 eels (0.863 t) using the markrecapture method and decreased to 1156 eels (0.139 t) using automatic transponder detection. Most eels probably migrated through a sluice located downstream of Lixhe to reach the upper Meuse via the Albert Canal. Eels moved almost independently to the configuration of the fish passes and their location, but most eels displayed fidelity to the fish pass where they were captured. Migrant eels showed a wide range of size and life stages, with a higher proportion of eels (80%) belonging to the yellow eel stage. A lower proportion of eels (6%) had a larger size and presented an advanced continental silvering process corresponding to the migrating stage before their transatlantic migration. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [less ▲]

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See detailConvention relative à la réhabilitation du Saumon atlantique dans le bassin de la Meuse (Rapport 2015-2016)
Ovidio, Michaël ULiege; Dierckx, Arnaud ULiege; Benitez, Jean-Philippe ULiege et al

Report (2016)

Le présent rapport d’activités intègre les travaux des deux équipes universitaires de Liège et de Namur (coordination Ulg – Dr M. Ovidio) dans la cadre de la subvention relative à la réhabilitation du ... [more ▼]

Le présent rapport d’activités intègre les travaux des deux équipes universitaires de Liège et de Namur (coordination Ulg – Dr M. Ovidio) dans la cadre de la subvention relative à la réhabilitation du saumon atlantique dans le bassin de la Meuse. [less ▲]

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See detailDynamics of upstream movements of the European eel Anguilla anguilla in an inland area of the River Meuse over the last 20 years
Nzau Matondo, Billy ULiege; Ovidio, Michaël ULiege

in Environmental Biology of Fishes (2016), 99

The dynamics of upstream movements of the yellow eel Anguilla anguilla were investigated at Lixhe on the Belgian River Meuse in an inland fish pass regularly monitored from 1992 to 2014. Based on a ... [more ▼]

The dynamics of upstream movements of the yellow eel Anguilla anguilla were investigated at Lixhe on the Belgian River Meuse in an inland fish pass regularly monitored from 1992 to 2014. Based on a constant year-to-year sampling effort, we examined the abundance of ascending yellow eels and their body size, seasonal movement, and the associated water temperature and flow. Over the last 23 years, the number of ascending yellow eels has declined at an average 4.2% per year since 1992. The abundance of eels in 2014 is estimated at 4.5% of the ascending stock in 1992. We observed that some annual variations in eel abundance at Lixhe might be related to opening fish passes downstream of the study site. The results clearly demonstrated that long-term declining abundance of eels has resulted in increased sizes (mean increase, 4.1 mm per year since 1992) and temperatures triggering the upstream movement process (1.03°C per decade), with earlier dates for the last eel passages reducing the difference between temperature extremes of eel passages through the fish pass during the migration season. Eel movements occurred in spring and summer at low river discharge and were mainly triggered by high-temperature events. Eels have become larger with time because of improved feeding opportunities and more growth habitats available resulting from the long-term reduction in recruitment. This study highlights the importance of investigating long time spans for a better comprehension of the changes observed in yellow eels and for the optimization of management measures and future research. [less ▲]

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See detailAn overview of potamodromous fish upstream movements in medium-sized rivers, by means of fish passes monitoring
Benitez, Jean-Philippe ULiege; Nzau Matondo, Billy ULiege; Dierckx, Arnaud ULiege et al

in Aquatic Ecology (2015), 49(4), 481-497

This study aims to investigate the upstream movement patterns of potamodromous fish species using multi-annual monitoring of modern multi-species fish passes in two medium-sized Belgian rivers: the ... [more ▼]

This study aims to investigate the upstream movement patterns of potamodromous fish species using multi-annual monitoring of modern multi-species fish passes in two medium-sized Belgian rivers: the Berwinne and the Amble`ve. During a 6-year monitoring period including a frequency of 1–5 times per week, the captured individuals were identified, measured and weighed to determine species abundance, and the periodicity of their seasonal movement patterns was investigated in relation to environmental factors. In the Amble`ve, 22 different fish species were monitored (n = 1513 individuals; biomass of 154 kg) and 14 species in the Berwinne (n = 3720; 408 kg). In both fish passes, inter-annual differences were observed, but the first year of monitoring was the best in terms of biomass, indicating the existence of an opening effect just after the fish passes opening, which allowed new migration routes. Salmonids and rheophilic cyprinids were predominant in terms of biomass, while minnow and spirlin were predominant in terms of number of fishes. The diversity in sizeranged from 46 to 760 mm demonstrating the importance of movements in various life stages. The capture periodicity showed different mobility patterns between the adult and juvenile stages in most species. Movements occurred frequently during the circus reproduction period for some species, but many species moved also apart from spawning period. This study highlights the omnipresence of patrimonial holobiotic potamodromous fish at different life stages that reflect their biological needs to move throughout the annual cycle. They must be considered as target species in river continuity restoration programmes and fish-pass design. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluation de la qualité biologique des rivières wallonnes sur base des indices biologiques poissons. Support technique aux inventaires 2015.
Rimbaud, Gilles ULiege; Ovidio, Michaël ULiege; Dierckx, Arnaud ULiege et al

Report (2015)

L’Université de Liège (LDPH) a effectué le travail décrit dans ce rapport pour le compte du Service public de Wallonie qui a financé ce projet dans le cadre d’une convention ayant pour objectif ... [more ▼]

L’Université de Liège (LDPH) a effectué le travail décrit dans ce rapport pour le compte du Service public de Wallonie qui a financé ce projet dans le cadre d’une convention ayant pour objectif l’évaluation de la qualité biologique des eaux de surface basée sur les indices biologiques « poissons » dans quatorze cours d’eau de Wallonie. Cette mission s’inscrit dans le contexte de la mise en oeuvre de la Directive 2000/60/CE établissant un cadre pour une politique communautaire dans le domaine de l’eau. [less ▲]

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