Schizothorax prenanti is an endemic fish in the mountain rivers of southwestern China with unique protection value. To further explore the vortex motion of hydraulic habitats, which is closely related to the fish breeding process, the cross-sectional vorticity was used to evaluate the hydraulic conditions of the natural spawning habitat of S. prenanti. A coupled level-set and volume-of-fluid (CLSVOF) three-dimensional (3D) model was applied to simulate the hydraulic habitat of the Weimen reach, a typical natural spawning ground for S. prenanti in the upper Yangtze River. The model was used in conjunction with the Wilcoxon rank sum test to distinguish the distributions of vertical vorticity in spawning and non-spawning reaches. Statistical analysis revealed that the cross-sectional vorticity in spawning reaches was significantly greater than in non-spawning reaches, with likely biological significance in the spawning process. The range of cross-sectional mean values of vorticity was 0.17 s(-1)-0.35 s(-1) in areas with concentrated fish sperm and eggs; the minimum value was 0.17 s(-1), and the majority of values were greater than 0.26 s(-1). Based on this study, a vague-set similarity model was used to assess the effectiveness of ecological restoration by evaluating the similarity of the cross-sectional vorticity of the natural spawning reach and rehabilitated spawning reach after implementing ecological restoration measures. The outcome might provide a theoretical basis for the recovery of damaged S. prenanti spawning grounds and act as an important complement for the assessment of recovery effectiveness and as a useful reference for the coordination of ecological water use with the demands of hydraulic and hydropower engineering
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