Predicting the Influence of Streamflow on Migration and Spawning of a Threatened Diadromous Fish, the Australian Grayling Prototroctes Maraena
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The development of effective strategies to restore the biological functioning of aquatic ecosystems with altered flow regimes requires a detailed understanding of flow-ecology requirements, which is unfortunately lacking in many cases. By understanding the flow conditions required to initiate critical life history events such as migration and spawning, it is possible to mitigate the threats posed by regulated river flow by providing targeted environmental flow releases from impoundments. In this study, we examined the influence of hydrological variables (e.g., flow magnitude), temporal variables (e.g., day of year) and spatial variables (e.g., longitudinal position of fish) on two key life history events (migration to spawning grounds and spawning activity) for a threatened diadromous fish (Australian grayling Prototroctes maraena) using data collected from 2008 to 2015 in the Bunyip–Tarago river system in Victoria. Our analyses revealed that flow changes act as a cue to downstream migration, but movement responses differed spatially: fish in the upper catchment showed a more specific requirement for rising discharge to initiate migration than fish in the lower catchment. Egg concentrations peaked in May when weekly flows increased relative to the median flow during a given spawning period. This information has recently been incorporated into the development of targeted environmental flows to facilitate migration and spawning by Australian grayling in the Bunyip–Tarago river system and other coastal systems in Victoria.
KeywordsEnvironmental flow Reproductive behaviour Acoustic telemetry
Melbourne Water and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning funded this study. Lauren Dodd, Renae Ayres, Mike Nicol, Graham Hackett, Jed Macdonald, Damien O’Mahony and Frank Amtstaetter assisted with field work or laboratory sorting. Thanks go to Justin O’Connor, David Meagher and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. This study was conducted under Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Permit 10004353 and 10005451, Fisheries Victoria Research Permit RP-827 and ethics permits 07/20, 08/04, 11/11 and 10/28 (ARI Animal Ethics Committee).
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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