Fish assemblages of an Australian dryland river: abundance, assemblages structure and recruitment patterns in the Warrego River, Murray Darling basin

Stephen Balcombe, Angela Arthington, Neal Foster, Martin Thoms, Glenn Wilson, Stuart Bunn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    66 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Fish in dryland rivers must cope with extreme variability in hydrology, temperature and other environmental factors that ultimately have a major influence on their patterns of distribution and abundance at the landscape scale. Given that fish persist in these systems under conditions of high environmental variability, dryland rivers represent ideal systems to investigate the processes contributing to and sustaining fish biodiversity and recruitment in variable environments. Hence, spatial and temporal variation in fish assemblage structure was examined in 15 waterholes of the Warrego River between October 2001 and May 2003. Fish assemblages in isolated waterholes were differentiated at the end of the dry 2001 winter but were relatively similar following high summer flows in January 2002 as a consequence of high hydrological connectivity among waterholes. Small, shallow waterholes supported more species and higher abundances than large-deep waterholes. Large, deep waterholes provided important refuge for large-bodied fish species such as adult yellowbelly, Macquaria ambigua, and the eel-tailed catfish, Tandanus tandanus. Recruitment patterns of bony bream (Nematalosa erebi), Hyrtl’s tandan (Neosilurus hyrtlii) and yellowbelly were associated with high flow events and backwater inundation; however recruitment of yellowbelly and bony bream was also evident following a zero-flow period. Departures from typical flood-induced seasonal spawning patterns may reflect opportunistic spawning behaviours appropriate to the erratic patterns of flooding and dry spells in dryland rivers
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)619-633
    Number of pages15
    JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
    Volume57
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2006

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    arid lands
    basins
    rivers
    fish
    basin
    river
    spawning
    backwater
    erratic
    eel
    catfish
    hydrology
    refuge
    temporal variation
    spatial variation
    connectivity
    environmental factor
    flooding
    biodiversity
    environmental factors

    Cite this

    Balcombe, Stephen ; Arthington, Angela ; Foster, Neal ; Thoms, Martin ; Wilson, Glenn ; Bunn, Stuart. / Fish assemblages of an Australian dryland river: abundance, assemblages structure and recruitment patterns in the Warrego River, Murray Darling basin. In: Marine and Freshwater Research. 2006 ; Vol. 57. pp. 619-633.
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    title = "Fish assemblages of an Australian dryland river: abundance, assemblages structure and recruitment patterns in the Warrego River, Murray Darling basin",
    abstract = "Fish in dryland rivers must cope with extreme variability in hydrology, temperature and other environmental factors that ultimately have a major influence on their patterns of distribution and abundance at the landscape scale. Given that fish persist in these systems under conditions of high environmental variability, dryland rivers represent ideal systems to investigate the processes contributing to and sustaining fish biodiversity and recruitment in variable environments. Hence, spatial and temporal variation in fish assemblage structure was examined in 15 waterholes of the Warrego River between October 2001 and May 2003. Fish assemblages in isolated waterholes were differentiated at the end of the dry 2001 winter but were relatively similar following high summer flows in January 2002 as a consequence of high hydrological connectivity among waterholes. Small, shallow waterholes supported more species and higher abundances than large-deep waterholes. Large, deep waterholes provided important refuge for large-bodied fish species such as adult yellowbelly, Macquaria ambigua, and the eel-tailed catfish, Tandanus tandanus. Recruitment patterns of bony bream (Nematalosa erebi), Hyrtl’s tandan (Neosilurus hyrtlii) and yellowbelly were associated with high flow events and backwater inundation; however recruitment of yellowbelly and bony bream was also evident following a zero-flow period. Departures from typical flood-induced seasonal spawning patterns may reflect opportunistic spawning behaviours appropriate to the erratic patterns of flooding and dry spells in dryland rivers",
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    Fish assemblages of an Australian dryland river: abundance, assemblages structure and recruitment patterns in the Warrego River, Murray Darling basin. / Balcombe, Stephen; Arthington, Angela; Foster, Neal; Thoms, Martin; Wilson, Glenn; Bunn, Stuart.

    In: Marine and Freshwater Research, Vol. 57, 31.08.2006, p. 619-633.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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