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Eel Study in Madeira

“In Search of the Critically Endangered European Eel on Oceanic Islands: A Pioneering Study in the Freshwater Systems of Madeira, Macaronesia” is the name of the scientific research paper now published on what is the only native freshwater fish in the Macaronesia Region, the European eel (Anguilla anguilla). It is also known in the region as eiró or iró.

The species studied over the last few years is globally threatened, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This first study on the species in the archipelago, important for the conservation of the species in the region, was led by researchers from MARE-Madeira/ARDITI in partnership with colleagues from MARE-FCUL (Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon), the University of Oxford (UK) and other institutions. A total of 376 eels were captured and then released in three sampling seasons, but the number does not allow us to know whether there are many or few animals in the region, as there is no record of previous numbers to serve as a comparison.

The document eill be used for future studies, which focus on habitation, the environmental factors that could influence the occupation of habitats along the streams. One of the results of the study was to verify that the eel is present on the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo and that the species may not occupy all the habitat available on the main island of the archipelago, possibly due to the rugged topography and the weirs built along the streams.

For this reason, the scientists say that more studies are needed to deepen the link between these structures and the migration of eels in these waterways.”

Samantha Gannon

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