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Ecological basis for river habitat and in-stream flow management

Arthington, A.H. Prof; Ph: (07) 3875 7403; Fax: (07) 3875 7615; a.arthington@ens.gu.edu.au

Research organisation: Griffith University, Centre for Catchment and In-stream Research, Kessells Road, Nathan Qld 4111

Collaborators: Project has been developed in collaboration with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries (Land Use Fisheries, and Water Resources).

Sponsors: LWRRDC, Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation; Queensland Department of Primary Industries; CEPA and DEST

Objectives:

1. To determine the effects of the flow regime, including drought and flood sequences, on channel morphology, in-stream cover, substrate diversity and other attributes of fish habitat, including certain aspects of water quality, in selected Queensland rivers;

2. To develop statistical models describing the relationships between in-stream habitat and fish community structure, and to further develop a conceptual model which integrates these relationships and the effects of spatial variation in flow regime;

3. To verify these relationships by experimental manipulations;

4. To define the flow events governing the habitat requirements, breeding cycles and levels of recruitment of selected, indicator fish species;

5. To determine the tolerances of these species to various levels, sequences and duration of flooding and drought;

6. To develop guidelines on the minimum and optimum flow regimes required to maintain channel morphology, in-stream cover, substrate diversity and fish habitat, fish breeding cycles and recruitment, and fish community structure;

7. To provide a manual summarising all available information on the biology, tolerances, habitat and flow requirements of Queensland riverine fish species.

Methodology:

1. Fish assemblages will be sampled by electrofishing, seine and gill netting. Microhabitat data will be collected in reaches of 200-300 m.

2. Statistical models relating catchment and habitat data to fish assemblage structure will be developed for each of four river types.

3. The models will be tested in adjacent catchments and in disturbed sites, before and after various types of flow event.

4. Experiments will be conducted to determine the influence of habitat structure on fish assemblage structure, by manipulation of selected habitat features.

5. The life histories of selected indicator species will be studied.

Progress: Final Report to LWRRDC in preparation for delivery December 1998. All objectives achieved.

Period: starting date 1993-07; completion date 1998-12

Status: Project virtually completed.

Keywords: climate variability, stream flow, freshwater fish populations

Publications:

Close, P.G., Pusey, B.J. and Arthington, A.H. (in press). Larval development of three species of rainbowfishes (Pisces: Melanotaenidae) of tropical north-eastern Queensland, Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology

Close, P.G., Pusey, B.J. and Arthington, A.H. (in press). Larval development of the fly-specked hardyhead, Craterocephalus stercusmuscarum (Gunther) (Pisces: Atherinidae) and purple-spotted gudgeon, Mogurnda adspersa (Pisces: Eleotridinae) of the Wet Tropics region of north-eastern Queensland, Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology

Close, P.G., Pusey, B.J., Bird, J. and Arthington, A.H.(in press). Patterns of larval abundance in rainforest streams of north-eastern Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research

Close, P.G., Pusey, B.J., Bird, J. and Arthington, A.H (in press). Microhabitat use by rainforest stream fish larvae: developmental and environmental influences. Freshwater Biology.

Pusey, B.J. and Arthington, A.H. (1996).Variability of flow regimes in the Burdekin River catchment. Proceedings of the 23rd Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium, Hobart, Tasmania, pp. 213-219.

Pusey, B.J., Arthington, A.H. and Read, M.G. (in press). Freshwater fishes of the Burdekin River, Australia: biogeography, history and spatial variation in assemblage structure. Environmental Biology of Fish.

Pusey, B.J. Arthington, A.H. and Read, M.G. (in press). The dry-season diet of freshwater fishes in monsoonal tropical rivers of Cape York Peninsula, northern Australia. Ecology of Freshwater Fishes.

Pusey, B.J., Kennard, M.J. and Arthington, A.H. (in press). Discharge variability and the development of predictive models relating stream fish assemblage structure to habitat in north-eastern Australia. Ecology of Freshwater Fishes.

Pusey, B.J., Bird, J., Kennard, M.J. and Arthington, A.H. (1997). The distribution of the Lake Eacham Rainbowfish in the Johnstone River, north Queensland. Australian Journal of Zoology 45, 75-84.

Pusey, B.J., Kennard, M.J., Arthur, J.M. and Arthington, A.H. (1998). Quantitative sampling of stream fish assemblages: single versus multiple pass electroshocking. Australian Journal of Ecology 23, 365-374.

 

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