Migration and Spawning of Radio-Tagged Zulega Prochilodus argenteus in a Dammed Brazilian River

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migration, spawning, Brazil, adult, tagging, upstream, migratory fish

Journal or Book Title

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society


It is difficult for agencies to evaluate the impacts of the many planned dams on São Francisco River, Brazil, migratory fishes because fish migrations are poorly known. We conducted a study on zulega Prochilodus argenteus, an important commercial and recreational fish in the São Francisco River, to identify migrations and spawning areas and to determine linear home range. During two spawning seasons (2001–2003), we radio-tagged fish in three main-stem reaches downstream of Três Marias Dam (TMD), located at river kilometer (rkm) 2,109. We tagged 10 fish at Três Marias (TM), which is 5 km downstream of TMD; 12 fish at Pontal, which is 28 km downstream of TMD and which includes the mouth of the Abaeté River; and 10 fish at Cilga, which is 45 km downstream of TMD. Late-stage (ripe) adults tagged in each area during the spawning season remained at or near the tagging site, except for four Cilga fish that went to Pontal and probably spawned. The Pontal area at the Abaeté River mouth was the most important spawning site we found. Prespawning fish moved back and forth between main-stem staging areas upstream of the Abaeté River mouth and Pontal for short visits. These multiple visits were probably needed as ripe fish waited for spawning cues from a flooding Abaeté River. Some fish homed to prespawning staging areas, spawning areas, and nonspawning areas. The migratory style of zulega was dualistic, with resident and migratory fish. Total linear home range was also dualistic, with small (<26-km) and large (53–127-km) ranges. The locations of spawning areas and home ranges suggest that the Pontal group (which includes Cilga fish) is one population that occupies about 110 km. The Pontal population overlaps a short distance with a population located downstream of Cilga. Movements of late-stage TM adults suggest that the TM group is a separate population, possibly with connections to populations upstream of TMD.





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