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ETHOFISH
The effect of turbidity and hypoxia on the behaviour of coastal marine fish

Current knowledge of the behavioural and physiological processes that regulate the interaction between environmental variations (both manufactured and natural) and the ecology of animals (i.e. their abundance and distribution) is limited. This knowledge is fundamental for understanding and predicting the effect of environmental disturbances on ecosystems, while its limitation is an obstacle to the development of specific environmental regulations. Turbidity and oxygen availability are two important environmental factors that are greatly affected by human activities along coasts. This project will examine the effect of turbidity and oxygen availability on ecologically relevant behaviours such as habitat selection, predator-prey interactions and aggregation. Modern methods integrating laboratory and field studies will be used. As a result, the work done will determine experimentally the thresholds beyond which turbidity and oxygen saturation alter fish behavioural and/or physiological processes. Experimental results will be incorporated in a conceptual model, including situation-specific sub-models of fish behaviour in response to hypoxia and turbidity.

Objectives
The objectives of the project are:
1) to assemble and further develop an integrative laboratory and field methodology, linking physical measurement with behaviour and physiological monitoring, for in situ evaluation of the effects of turbidity and hypoxia on fish behaviour
2) to determine experimentally the thresholds above which turbidity, and below which oxygen saturation, alter fish behavioural and/or physiological processes
3) to understand how habitat selection behaviour, an important determinant of biodiversity, is modulated by variation in turbidity and oxygen levels
4) to determine the extent to which predator-prey interactions (focusing both on predator and on prey) and schooling behaviour of fish are affected by turbidity and/or hypoxia
5) to integrate the results obtained in a conceptual and predictive model.

Progress to Date
Work Package 2 (Methodological Implementation, month 1-6) has been completed.

Classified in ANIMALS, FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE, QUANTITATIVE APPROACHES AND MODELLING

Scientist responsible for the project

Dr. PAOLO DOMENICI
LocalitÓ Sa Mardini
09072 Torregrande - Oristano
Italy - IT

Phone: +39 078322027
Fax: +39 078322002
E-mail: p.domenici@imc-it.org

References

Project ID QLRT-2001-00799
Organisation IMC - CENTRO MARINO INTERNAZIONALE
Area 5.1.2
Start date 10 January 2002
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 2 341 808 €
Total EC contribution   1 784 422 €
Status Ongoing
Web address of the project   http://www.ifremer.fr/ethofish/

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