Distribution of the American Eel in the Antilles and Central and South America

Tuesday, August 19, 2014: 9:00 AM
207 (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
José Benchetrit , Département de biologie, Université Laval, Quebec, QC, Canada
James McCleave , School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME
Amanda Moeser , 1 Long Wharf, Antioch University New England, Portland, ME
The American eel is facultatively catadromous and distributed in inland and coastal waters throughout eastern North America, the Antilles, Central and northern South America. Research in recent decades advanced our understanding of its biology and ecology but was concentrated in Canada and the United States – in the northern half of the geographic range.  Few studies were reported to the south.  Eastward and southward through the Antilles and southward from Mexico to northern South America, there is decreasing available information regarding the species’ presence and abundance.  Our objective was to determine historical and current distribution of the American eel in its southern range.  Specimen records were compiled from primary literature, reports, museum collections, and anecdotal reports.  Our findings confirm the current presence of the American eel in most areas but also highlight the difficulty in determining whether recruitment to the south is regular, occasional or absent.  Recent records from Puerto Rico, Martinique, Trinidad, Honduras, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela suggest that limited sampling efforts are partly responsible for the paucity of information.  Because the American eel is panmictic, knowledge of its abundance in the south is critical to conservation efforts, particularly given the increasing evidence of glass eel fisheries developing there.