Observations on the distribution and abundance of carp and native fish, and their responses to a habitat restoration trial in the Murray River, Australia

Simon J. Nicol, Jason A. Lieschke, Jarod P. Lyon, John D. Koehn

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40 Citations (Scopus)


A native fish strategy has been initiated to rehabilitate native fish populations in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia. The reintroduction of large woody debris (LWD) into the Basin's large lowland rivers is one of the restoration activities in the strategy. The results from three separate studies undertaken on the Murray River between Yarrawonga and Tocumwal are presented on the relationship between carp (Cyprinus carpio), native species, and LWD to examine whether native species and carp compete for LWD habitat. The first study reports on the relative abundance of carp and native fish in a river reach. Since 1995 carp abundance has declined, whereas the abundance of native fish populations has remained relatively constant providing little support for the hypothesis that competition for LWD habitat is having effects at the population level effects. The second study reports on the relationship between LWD, river channel position, and its use as habitat by carp and native species. A statistically significant relationship was observed between native fish, LWD, the location within a meander, and curvature of the meander. There was no statistically significant relation between carp and any of these parameters indicating that carp utilise a variety of riverine habitats, whereas native species were strongly associated with LWD. The third study reports on an experiment that tested the response of carp to the placement of new LWD habitat. The response from carp was statistically inconclusive. The combination of these studies suggest that it is unlikely that carp and native species are directly competing for LWD habitat and it is unlikely that carp will inundate restored LWD habitats and preclude native species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-551
Number of pages11
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


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