Hydropower plants (HPPs) are a source of “green” energy but also a threat to migrating fish such as the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) owing to the disruption of river connectivity and the obstruction of downstream migration. The impact of HPP are well-documented in terms of fish survival and damages but there is no available information concerning the condition of surviving and unharmed fish. The aim of this study is to assess the impact of the passage through HPP on the survival, the physiological and health status of adult eels. Two trials were carried with variants of the Kaplan turbine - one of the most common types in Europe. After a deliberate passage through the turbines, we studied direct mortality, external and internal damages, stress and immune biomarkers such as plasma cortisol and glucose levels, alternative complement (ACH50), lysozyme and peroxidase activities, and total immunoglobulin (Ig) content. Our results showed a lower survival and a higher external and internal damages rates in the HPP groups. Glucose levels, ACH50, lysozyme and peroxidase activities and TIgc were also affected by the passage depending on HPP characteristics. Those findings suggest a greater energy expenditure and a disruption in innate immunity due to this passage. HPPs can not only have an impact in terms of direct mortality and injuries but also affect the physiological and health condition of the surviving eels. This impact may explain the delayed mortality observed in telemetric studies and the passage through many HPPs may compromise the ability of adult eels to migrate successfully to the ocean.
|Journal||Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A: Molecular & integrative physiology|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2021|
- Adult European eel
- Downstream migration
- Hydropower plant
- Physiological and health status