Meander reshaping – the formation process of a wintering riverbed depression of fish

  • A. A. Chemagin Tobolsk Complex Scientific Station of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Keywords: wintering of fish; meander reshaping; channel processes; aggregations of fish; winter mortality of fish


The study of the spatiotemporal distribution of fish is an important and poorly studied aspect of the ecology of aquatic organisms. The research work was performed using the modern hydroacoustic method and geographic information systems. A section in the lower reaches of the Irtysh, a large transboundary Siberian river (in Western Siberia, Russian Federation), was studied. It has a strong development of meandering. The merging (i.e., reshaping of closely spaced meanders and erosion-accumulating channel processes) results in development of wintering riverbed depression, which is a critical “temporal bottleneck” during the winter period of the fish life cycle. The average density of fish in the study area in summer and autumn was 8,031 and 9,194 individuals per ha, respectively. Analysis of the distribution of fish showed that the distribution in the horizontal aspect had a more aggregated character in the autumn. In the vertical aspect, it had a more surface (pelagic) character. The ichthyofauna in the water area of the riverbed depression is mainly represented by cyprinids. The loop-shaped evolution of the channel formed a section of the river with multidirectional, circulating, and counter-current flows. It also created zones with depths exceeding 20 m and aggregations of fish. These features characterize the studied water area as a wintering riverbed depression of the fish of the Lower Irtysh. This section of the river should be included in the list of protected wintering biotopes of fish in the West Siberian fishery basin, which will ensure the conservation of fish at the critical stage of the life cycle.


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