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Water 2018, 10(5), 600; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10050600

Ecological Flow Assessment to Improve the Spawning Habitat for the Four Major Species of Carp of the Yangtze River: A Study on Habitat Suitability Based on Ultrasonic Telemetry

1
Key Laboratory of Freshwater Fish Reproduction and Development (Ministry of Education), Key Laboratory of Aquatic Science of Chongqing, School of Life Science, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
2
Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Fishery Science, Wuhan 430223, China
3
China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Bejing 100038, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 March 2018 / Revised: 25 April 2018 / Accepted: 30 April 2018 / Published: 4 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
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Abstract

Four major species of Chinese carp, namely black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus), silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), are important economic freshwater fish varieties in China. They primarily inhabit and breed in the Yangtze River. Unfortunately, the construction and operation of the Gezhouba Dam and the Three Gorges Dam have dramatically changed the hydrodynamic conditions in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, leading to a sharp decline in the reproduction rates of these carp. The egg abundance of the four species of carp downstream from the Three Gorges Dam reached 8.35 billion in 1965, but abundance during 2005–2012 was only 0.25 billion. One of the main reasons was that the hydrodynamic conditions of the spawning ground could not meet the four species’ breeding requirements. However, due to the limitations of traditional detection tools, the spawning characteristics of these four species of carp were still unclear. In this study, the ultrasonic telemetry and a three–dimensional hydrodynamic model were utilized to build the habitat suitability index (HSI) curves for the four species of carp. The habitat suitability model was then built based on HSI curves to assess spawning habitat quantity under different flow conditions. Finally, the habitat suitability model in the Yidu spawning ground was validated using 32 groups of sampling data in 2015 and 2017. The statistical results showed that the most suitable velocity ranged from 0.78 m/s to 0.93 m/s. The most suitable water depth ranged from 14.56 m to 16.35 m, and the most suitable Froude number ranged from 0.049 to 0.129. The habitat suitability model simulation results indicated that when the discharge was between 15,000 m3/s and 21,300 m3/s, the weighted usable area (WUA) values in both the Yidu and Zhicheng spawning grounds would remain at a high level. The validation results showed that most spawning activities occurred at a high level of WUA, and that the daily spawning egg numbers increased with the WUA value. Therefore, discharges of between 15,000 m3/s and 21,300 m3/s could be recommended as ecological operation target flows. We propose a feasible ecological operation scheme by setting the initial flow at 15,000 m3/s and maintaining the daily discharge increase at 1500 m3/s for 4 days. View Full-Text
Keywords: four major Chinese carps; spawning ground; ultrasonic telemetry; habitat suitability index model; ecological flow four major Chinese carps; spawning ground; ultrasonic telemetry; habitat suitability index model; ecological flow
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Yu, L.; Lin, J.; Chen, D.; Duan, X.; Peng, Q.; Liu, S. Ecological Flow Assessment to Improve the Spawning Habitat for the Four Major Species of Carp of the Yangtze River: A Study on Habitat Suitability Based on Ultrasonic Telemetry. Water 2018, 10, 600.

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