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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Martyn Lucas

Silva, S., Macaya-Solis, C. & Lucas, M.C. (2017). Energetically efficient behaviour may be common in biology, but it is not universal: a test of selective tidal stream transport in a poor swimmer. Marine Ecology Progress Series 584: 161-174.

Author(s) from Durham


Selective tidal stream transport (STST) is a common migration strategy for a wide range of aquatic animals, facilitating energetically efficient transport, especially of species considered poor swimmers. We tested whether this mechanism applies during the upstream migration of a poor swimmer, the European river lamprey Lampetra fluviatilis, in a macrotidal estuary. Lamprey (n = 59) were acoustically tagged and tracked in a 40 km section of the River Ouse estuary (NE England) in autumn 2015. Against expectations, lamprey did not use STST and migrated upstream during flood, ebb and slack tide periods. Lamprey also migrated during both day and night in most of the study area, probably due to the high turbidity. The global migration speed (all individuals, over the entire track per individual) was (mean ± SD) 0.15 ± 0.07 m s-1. The migration speed varied significantly between tidal periods (0.38 ± 0.04 m s-1 during flooding tides, 0.12 ± 0.01 m s-1 during ebbing tides and 0.28 ± 0.01 m s-1 during slacks). It was also higher in areas not affected by tides during periods of high freshwater discharge (0.23 ± 0.08 m s-1) than in affected areas (0.17 ± 0.14 m s-1). If the energetic advantages of STST are not employed in macrotidal environments, it is likely that the fitness costs of that behaviour exceed potential energy savings, for example due to increased duration of exposure to predation. In conclusion, STST is evidently not universal in relatively poor swimmers; its use can vary between species and may vary under different conditions.