Agent-based modelling of juvenile eel migration via selective tidal stream transport

Benson, T. and De Bie, J. and Gaskell, J. and Vezza, P. and Kerr, J. and Lumbroso, D. and Owen, M. and Kemp, P. (2021) Agent-based modelling of juvenile eel migration via selective tidal stream transport. Ecological Modelling, 443.

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Recruitment of temperate eel species Anguilla anguilla, A. rostrata & A. japonica has declined over the last few decades due to human activities, such as overfishing and construction of migratory barriers (e.g. dams, weirs and sluices) and hazardous energy infrastructure (e.g. turbines, intakes and outfalls). Numerical models, substantiated with data from field and laboratory studies, can potentially predict and quantify the relative impacts of such activities, thereby assisting in the sustainable management of eel populations. Here, we present an agent-based model (ABM) of juvenile eel migration up estuaries. The model includes relevant eel behaviours and environmental conditions that, according to the literature, influence upstream migration. Crucially, by assessing the local salinity gradient and relative flow direction, the modelled eels (agents) self-determine whether the tide is flooding or ebbing and orientate themselves for navigation, with no top-down instructions. This allows the agents to decide which particular behaviour to undertake as part of Selective Tidal Stream Transport (STST). The developed ABM is coupled to a hydrodynamic model of the Thames Estuary and the results substantiated by comparison against eel trap data. Combinations of the various STST behaviours are systematically tested and the influence they have on up-estuary migration is assessed in terms of relative energy expenditure. The parameterised model is then used predictively at Milford Haven Waterway to investigate potential impacts on the juvenile eel population due to entrainment in a power plant cooling water intake and outfall. Results from the Thames model case study indicate that including bed anchoring behaviour is essential for achieving a good comparison with the eel trap data and the choice of salinity detection threshold is also important. If daylight avoidance (diel) behaviour is not included, the most energy efficient migration is achieved using just two STST behaviours (ebb tide bed anchoring and upward migration during flood). With diel behaviour included, energy expenditure is greater, but some efficiency is regained by including all of the STST behaviours. For the Milford Haven case study, the model predicted a juvenile eel intake and outfall entrainment rate of 2.0% and 4.7%, respectively. It is concluded that the ABM is a valuable tool for assessing potential impacts on the recruitment of eels (extendable to other species) and could be used to assist in site-selection and low impact design of energy infrastructure in tidal environments.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Open Access Corrigendum:
Subjects: Maritime > General
Divisions: Maritime
Depositing User: Helen Stevenson
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2020 15:43
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2022 13:58

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