Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

There and back again: migration in freshwater fishes

  • Christer Brönmark
  • Kaj Hulthén
  • P. A. Nilsson
  • C. Skov
  • Lars-Anders Hansson
  • J. Brodersen
  • Ben Chapman
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 467-479
Publication/Series: Canadian Journal of Zoology
Volume: 92
Issue: 6
Document type: Journal article review
Publisher: National Research Council Canada

Abstract english

Animal migration is an amazing phenomenon that has fascinated humans for long. Many freshwater fishes also show remarkable migrations, whereof the spectacular mass migrations of salmonids from the spawning streams are the most well known and well studied. However, recent studies have shown that migration occurs in a range of freshwater fish taxa from many different habitats. In this review we focus on the causes and consequences of migration in freshwater fishes. We start with an introduction of concepts and categories of migration, and then address the evolutionary causes that drive individuals to make these migratory journeys. The basis for the decision of an individual fish to migrate or stay resident is an evaluation of the costs and benefits of different strategies to maximize its lifetime reproductive effort. We provide examples by discussing our own work on the causes behind seasonal migration in a cyprinid fish, roach (Rutilus rutilus (L., 1758)), within this framework. We then highlight different adaptations that allow fish to migrate over sometimes vast journeys across space, including capacity for orientation, osmoregulation, and efficient energy expenditure. Following this we consider the consequences of migration in freshwater fish from ecological, evolutionary, and conservation perspectives, and finally, we detail some of the recent developments in the methodologies used to collect data on fish migration and how these could be used in future research.


  • Ecology
  • fish migration
  • seasonal
  • evolution
  • consequences
  • cyprinids


  • ISSN: 1480-3283
Anders Nilsson
E-mail: anders [dot] nilsson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Aquatic ecology

+46 46 222 83 65

+46 70 346 25 66



Research group

Aquatic Ecology


Doctoral students and postdocs

Main supervisor

Varpu Pärssinen

Assistant supervisor

Downloads & links