Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 28, Issue 1–4, pp 143–178 | Cite as

Comparisons between the roles played by estuaries in the life cycles of fishes in temperate Western Australia and Southern Africa

  • Ian C. Potter
  • Lynnath E. Beckley
  • Alan K. Whitfield
  • Rodney C. J. Lenanton
Article

Synopsis

The rivers of south-western Australia and south-eastern Africa lie at similar latitudes, open into the Indian Ocean and frequently have estuaries that are periodically closed off from the sea by sand bars at their mouths. The present study has compared the species, genera and families represented in the fish assemblages of estuaries in south-western Australia and temperate southern Africa, i.e. below 31°S, and the way in which these estuaries are used by fish. The Clupeidae, Mugilidae, Atherinidae and Gobiidae were important families in both regions. However, the Terapontidae and Tetraodontidae, and the tropical families Apogonidae and Gerreidae, were represented by large numbers of individuals only in the estuaries of south-western Australia. Although 45 out of a total of 112 families and 32 of 233 genera occurred in both south-western Australia and temperate southern Africa, only 15 of the 326 species were found in both regions. The contributions made by the number of marine species which regularly enter estuaries in large numbers (marine estuarine-opportunists) to the total number of species recorded in the estuaries of south-western Australia and temperate southern Africa were similar (13.4 and 12.2% respectively) and the same was also true of species capable of completing their life cycles in estuaries (8.8 and 8.2%). The number of fresh water and diadromous species recorded in both regions was small. By contrast, the species of marine stragglers contributed approximately 70% to the total number of species in both regions. The adaptations of marine estuarine-opportunists and estuarine spawners to life in estuaries, and particularly to the effects of the closure of estuary mouths, is discussed. Although only one marine species was restricted to estuaries at any particular interval of its life cycle in south-western Australia, the juveniles of a number of marine species were confined to estuaries in temperate southern Africa. It is suggested that this difference can be attributed to the presence of a greater area and quality of alternative nursery habitats in the inshore marine environments in south-western Australia than in southern Africa.

Key words

Demography Recruitment Spawning Nursery Estuarine dependence Opportunism Landlocking 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian C. Potter
    • 1
  • Lynnath E. Beckley
    • 2
  • Alan K. Whitfield
    • 3
  • Rodney C. J. Lenanton
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Biological and Environmental SciencesMurdoch UniversityMurdochAustralia
  2. 2.Zoology DepartmentUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  3. 3.J. L. B. Smith Institute of IchthyologyGrahamstownSouth Africa
  4. 4.Western Australian Marine Research LaboratoriesNorth BeachAustralia

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