Managing potential impacts of reservoir enlargement on threatened Macquaria australasica and Gadopsis bispinosus in southeastern Australia

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    Enlargement of a domestic water supply reservoir on the Cotter River in southeastern Australia (4 to 78 Gl) includes an inundation zone that contains 2 threatened fish species, Macquarie perch Macquaria australasica and two-spined blackfish Gadopsis bispinosus. The enlarged reservoir will be 50 m deeper and impound an additional 4.5 km of river and thus poses a number of potential threats to these fish species. The majority of threats relate to the inundation zone or upstream environments, as downstream environments have been degraded by significant flow alterations from the existing Cotter Dam and 2 upstream dams. Threats include the loss of refuge habitat and associated increased predation, loss of preferred food sources, invasion and expansion of alien fish populations, loss of spawning habitat (or access to it), and the introduction of disease. To minimise or mitigate these threats, a collaborative and comprehensive research and management program is underway involving participation from the water utility and various universities and government agencies. Funding by the water utility of an independent senior fisheries scientist, establishment of a stakeholder steering group, independent peer review processes, and dedicated staff within the design and construction alliance are intended to ensure fish requirements are considered in dam design, construction, and operation. The establishment of an independent, collaborative science-driven process, coupled with the establishment of a long-term monitoring program in an adaptive management framework is a model for other infrastructure projects worldwide, particularly those that threaten riverine fish.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    JournalEndangered Species Research
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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