Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Glass-eel-stage American Eels respond to conspecific odor as a function of concentration

July 25, 2016

The American Eel Anguilla rostrata has experienced staggering population declines in recent decades and is now the focus of restoration efforts. Studies have demonstrated that olfaction is critical to anguillid behavior and that glass eels (the life stage which migrates inland from saltwater to freshwater) are attracted to conspecific washings. We evaluated conspecific cueing as a potential mechanism for American Eel inland migration coordination by assessing (1) the affinity of glass eels to conspecific washings, (2) the concentration–response relationships, and (3) changes in responsiveness to washings during the glass eel-to-elver transition. In two-choice maze assays, glass eels were attracted to glass eel washings over a wide range of concentrations (0.20–0.40 g of glass eels·L−1·h−1), and a logarithmic function provided the best fit to the concentration–response relationship. When given a choice between two conspecific washings of higher and lower concentrations, the glass eels generally preferred the higher concentration. Responses to undiluted glass eel washings did not significantly differ among stage-3–7 glass eels, although stage-7 eels were not attracted to the washings, whereas the other stages were. Washing affinity remained similar over the course of several weeks. These results support aspects of the conspecific cueing hypothesis at the glass eel life stage under laboratory conditions, suggesting that conspecific cueing is an important component of migration coordination among juvenile American Eels and warrants additional study.

Publication Year 2016
Title Glass-eel-stage American Eels respond to conspecific odor as a function of concentration
DOI 10.1080/00028487.2016.1146164
Authors Andrew K. Schmucker, Nicholas S. Johnson, Heather S. Galbraith, Weiming Li
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Index ID 70174970
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center