Key factors explaining critical swimming speed in freshwater fish: a review and statistical analysis for Iberian species

Swimming performance is a key feature that mediates fitness and survival in aquatic animals. Dispersal, habitat selection, predator-prey interactions and reproduction are processes that depend on swimming capabilities. Testing the critical swimming speed (Ucrit) of fish is the most straightforward method to assess their prolonged swimming performance. We analysed the contribution of several predictor variables (total body length, experimental water temperature, time step interval between velocity increments, species identity, taxonomic affiliation, native status, body shape and form factor) in explaining the variation of Ucrit, using linear models and random forests. We compiled in total 204 studies testing Ucrit of 35 inland fishes of the Iberian Peninsula, including 17 alien species that are non-native to that region. We found that body length is largely the most important predictor of Ucrit out of the eight tested variables, followed by family, time step interval and species identity. By contrast, form factor, temperature, body shape and native status were less important. Results showed a generally positive relationship between Ucrit and total body length, but regression slopes varied markedly among families and species. By contrast, linear models did not show significant differences between native and alien species. In conclusion, the present study provides a first comprehensive database of Ucrit in Iberian freshwater fish, which can be thus of considerable interest for habitat management and restoration plans. The resulting data represents a sound foundation to assess fish responses to hydrological alteration (e.g. water flow tolerance and dispersal capacities), or to categorize their habitat preferences ​
This document is licensed under a Creative Commons:Attribution (by) Creative Commons by