Fish morphology and passage through velocity barriers. Experience with northern straight-mouth nase (Pseudochondrostoma duriense Coelho, 1985) in an open channel flume

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Knowing the relationship between size, morphological traits and swimming performance of fish is essential to understand the swimming capacity to successfully surpass these obstacles and the selective pressure that barriers in rivers and streams could exert on fish. Northern straight-mouth nase, an endemic potamodromous cyprinid fish species from the Northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, was selected to carry out volitionally swimming performance experiments in an open channel against three different flow velocities, using telemetry and video cameras. The use of thin-plate spline, on 10 landmarks, evidenced unknown patterns linked to velocity barriers. At lower flow velocity, size is the main factor explaining the swimming performance; thus, large individuals swim up more efficiently. In contrast, at high flow velocities, shape becomes the essential explanatory variable; thereby, streamlined body shapes with a higher relative position of the tail and a narrower caudal peduncle are more efficient. The obtained results show the existence of a relationship between fish morphology and swimming performance, with potential consequences due to selection pressures associated with velocity barriers and their implications on behavioural and dispersal processes. To sum up, velocity barriers could exert a selection pressure on nase populations, so the fishway design and removal should be (re)considered.