Assessment of the quality of European silver eels and tentative approach to trace the origin of contaminants - a European overview

Bourillon, Bastien, Acou, Anthony, Trancart, Thomas, Belpaire, Claude, Covaci, Adrian, Bustamante, Paco, Faliex, Elisabeth, Amilhat, Elsa, Malarvannan, Govindan, Virag, Laure, Aarestrup, Kim, Bervoets, Lieven, Boisneau, Catherine, Boulenger, Clarisse, Gargan, Paddy, Becerra-Jurado, Gustavo, Lobon-Cervia, Javier, Maes, Gregory E., Pedersen, Michael Ingemann, Poole, Russell, Sjoberg, Niklas, Wickstrom, Hakan, Walker, Alan, Righton, David, and Feunteun, Eric (2020) Assessment of the quality of European silver eels and tentative approach to trace the origin of contaminants - a European overview. Science of the Total Environment, 743. 140675.

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Abstract

The European eel is critically endangered. Although the quality of silver eels is essential for their reproduction, little is known about the effects of multiple contaminants on the spawning migration and the European eel management plan does not take this into account. To address this knowledge gap, we sampled 482 silver eels from 12 catchments across Europe and developed methods to assess three aspects of eel quality: muscular lipid content (N = 169 eels), infection with Anguillicola crassus (N = 482), and contamination by persistent organic pollutants (POPs, N = 169) and trace elements (TEs, N = 75). We developed a standardized eel quality risks index (EQR) using these aspects for the subsample of 75 female eels. Among 169 eels, 33% seem to have enough muscular lipids content to reach the Sargasso Sea to reproduce. Among 482 silver eels, 93% were infected by A. crassus at least once during their lifetime. All contaminants were above the limit of quantification, except the 1,2-bis (2,4,6-tribromophenoxy)ethane (BTBPE), Ag and V. The contamination by POPs was heterogeneous between catchments while TEs were relatively homogeneous, suggesting a multi-scale adaptation of management plans. The EQR revealed that eels from Warwickshire were most impacted by brominated flame-retardants and agricultural contaminants, those from Scheldt were most impacted by agricultural and construction activities, PCBs, coal burning, and land use, while Fremur eels were best characterized by lower lipid contents and high parasitic and BTBPE levels.

There was a positive correlation between EQR and a human footprint index highlighting the capacity of silver eels for biomonitoring human activities and the potential impact on the suitability of the aquatic environment for eel population health. EQR therefore represents a step forward in the standardization and mapping of eel quality risks, which will help identify priorities and strategies for restocking freshwater ecosystems. Crown Copyright (C) 2020 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Item ID: 64696
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-1026
Keywords: Lipid energy, Anguillicola crassus, Pollution, Bioaccumulation, Bioindicators, Management
Copyright Information: © 2020 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Funders: European Union Seventh Framework Programme (EU FP7)
Projects and Grants: EU FP7 GOCE-2008212133, EU FP7 EU-EELIAD 2008-201
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2020 08:03
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
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