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You are here: Home / Associated publications / Belgian Journal of Zoology / Bibliographic References / Fish assemblages across a salinity gradient in the Zeeschelde estuary (Belgium)

Jan Breine, Joachim Maes, Frans Ollevier, and Maarten Stevens (2011)

Fish assemblages across a salinity gradient in the Zeeschelde estuary (Belgium)


Between 1991 and 2008 a total of 71 fish species was recorded in the brackish and fresh water zone of the Schelde estuary (Zeeschelde). The results were obtained from fish surveys from the cooling water filter screens of the power plant at Doel (between 1991 and 2008) and fyke net surveys along the length of the estuary between 1995 and 2008. Species abundance in the different salinity zones was analysed using the fyke net data only. The ten most abundant species represent 90.8\% of the total number of individuals caught. In decreasing order of abundance: flounder (Platichthys flesus), roach (Rutilus rutilus), herring (Clupea harengus), eel (Anguilla anguilla), pike-perch (Sander lucioperca), sole (Solea solea), common goby (Pomatoschistus microps), seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and white bream (Blicca bjoerkna). With fyke nets 33 species were caught in the tidal freshwater zone, 43 species in the oligohaline zone and 59 species in the mesohaline zone. Each salinity zone is characterised by a typical fish assemblage, although some species are shared between all three salinity zones: e.g. three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), Prussian carp (Carrasius gibelio), roach (Rutilus rutilus) and eel (Anguilla anguilla). Diadromous species occur in all zones and make up, on average up 22\% of the species richness. Freshwater species comprise about 70\% of the species in the tidal freshwater zone. In the oligohaline zone the contribution of the freshwater species to the species richness is less while marine migrants become more abundant. As expected, the contribution of marine migrants and estuarine species is higher in the mesohaline zone. The recent increase in species richness in the freshwater and oligohaline zone coincides with a remarkable increase in dissolved oxygen since 2007.

fish assemblages; spatial variation; low salinity zone; functional guilds
  • ISSN: 0777-6276

ISSN 2295-0451 (online version)
ISSN 0777-6279 (printed version)
impact factor 2015: 0,87.

Prof. Dr. Isa Schön
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium


Annales de la Société malacologique de Belgique
​Annales de la Société royale malacologique et zoologique de Belgique
Annales de la Société Royale Zoologique de Belgique
Belgian Journal of Zoology