Flow magnitude and variability influence growth of two freshwater fish species in a large regulated floodplain river
- 317 Downloads
Fish are often targets for environmental watering outcomes under the premise that aspects of the flow regime are linked to key components of their life-history. This study examined the conceptual link between variability in river discharge and fish productivity by measuring annual growth patterns (generated using sclerochronology over a 22-year period) of two native freshwater cod Maccullochella spp. species over a range of flow conditions in a regulated Australian floodplain River. We found a positive relationship between fish growth, flow variability and river discharge. Flow variability during spring and summer-autumn, as well as their antecedent values, was particularly important in explaining annual growth of the nationally endangered Maccullochella macquariensis. Growth of Maccullochella peelii displayed similar patterns, though were more closely aligned with spring discharge. These results are consistent with the general view that increased river regulation, due to its suppression of flow magnitude and variability, has been a major contributing factor in the decline of native fish populations throughout the world. Our results provide support and guidance for the use of environmental water delivery, and have broad application to rivers worldwide for which any quantification of ecological impacts of regulation, and responses to water management remain scarce.
KeywordsRiver regulation Environmental flows Murray cod Trout cod Flood pulse concept Productivity Murray–Darling Basin
We acknowledge the Murray–Darling Basin Authority for funding and their continued support in this research. We would also thank the large number of ARI staff for field assistance and John Koehn (ARI) and John Morrongiello (University of Melbourne) and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on early drafts. This work was conducted under NSW Fisheries Scientific Research Permit F93/158(C)-8.0 and OUT13/4461, Victorian Fisheries Research Permit RP827, FFG Research Permit 10005913 and DEPI Animal Ethics 07/23 and 11/02.
- Anderson, J., A. Morison & D. Ray, 1992a. Validation of the use of thin-sectioned Otoliths for determining the age and growth of Golden Perch, Macquaria ambigua (Perciformes: Percichthyidae), in the Lower Murray-Darling Basin, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 43: 1103–1128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Barton, K. 2013. MuMIn: Multi-model inference [available on internet at http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=MuMIn].
- Bates, D., M. Maechler, B. Bolker & S. Walker, S. 2013. lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using Eigen and S4. CRAN [available on internet at http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=lme4].
- Burnham, K. P. & D. R. Anderson, 2010. Model Selection and Multi-Model Inference: A Practical Information-Theoretic Approach, 2nd ed. Springer, New York.Google Scholar
- Close, A., 1990. The impact of man on the natural flow regime. In Mackay, N. & D. Eastburn (eds), The Murray. Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Canberra: 61–76.Google Scholar
- Cook, R., N. Ning, D. Nielsen, B. Gawne & L. Vilizzi 2012. Changes to the structure and function of Murray-Darling Basin rivers in response to the transition from drought. Final Report prepared for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities by The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, MDFRC Publication 4/2012, March, pp 71.Google Scholar
- Cottingham, P., G. Hannan, T. Hillman, J. Koehn, L. Metzling, J. Roberts & I. Rutherfurd, 2001. Report of the Ovens scientific panel on environmental condition and flows of the Ovens River. Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology Technical Report 9/2001.Google Scholar
- Crook, D. A. & B. M. Gillanders, 2013. Age and Growth. In Humphries, P. & K. Walker (eds), Ecology of Australian Freshwater Fishes. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.Google Scholar
- Junk, W. J. & K. M. Wantzen, 2006. The flood pulse concept: New aspects, approaches and applications—an update. In Batzer, D. P. & R. R. Sharitz (eds), Ecology of Freshwater and Estuarine Wetlands. University of California Press, Berkeley: 117–140.Google Scholar
- Junk, W. J., P. B. Bayley & R. E. Sparks, 1989. The flood pulse concept in river-floodplain systems. Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 106: 110–127.Google Scholar
- Koehn, J. D. & W. G. O'Connor, 1990. Biological information for management of native freshwater fish in Victoria. Victorian Government Printing Office, Melbourne, Australia, pp 165.Google Scholar
- Lintemans, M., 2007. Fishes of the Murray-Darling Basin: An introductory guide. Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Canberra.Google Scholar
- Lyon, J. P., C. Todd, S. J. Nicol, A. MacDonald, D. Stoessel, B. A. Ingram, R. J. Barker & C. J. A. Bradshaw, 2012. Reintroduction success of threatened Australian trout cod (Maccullochella macquariensis) based on growth and reproduction. Marine and Freshwater Research 63: 598–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lyon, J. P., T. Bird, S. Nicol, J. Kearns, J. O’Mahony, C. R. Todd, I. G. Cowx & C. J. A. Bradshaw, 2014. Efficiency of electrofishing in turbid lowland rivers: Implications for measuring temporal change in fish populations. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 71: 878–886.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- MDBA 2014. Daily flow and temperature data. [available on internet at http://www.mdba.gov.au/river-data/live-river-data] (accessed 2nd June 2014).
- Poff, N. L., B. D. Richter, A. H. Aarthington, S. E. Bunn, R. J. Naiman, E. Kendy, M. Acreman, C. Apse, B. P. Bledsoe, M. C. Freeman, J. Henriksen, R. B. Jacobson, J. G. Kennen, D. M. Merritt, J. H. O’Keeffe, J. D. Olden, K. Rogers, R. E. Tharme & A. Warner, 2010. The ecological limits of hydrologic alteration (ELOHA): A new framework for developing regional environmental flow standards. Freshwater Biology 55: 147–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- R Development Core Team, 2013. R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna [available on internet at http://www.R-project.org].
- Rutherfurd, I. D., 1994. Inherited controls on the form of a large, low energy river: The Murray River, Australia. In the variability of large alluvial rivers. In Schumm, S. A. & B. R. Winkley (eds), The Variability of Large Alluvial Rivers. ASCE Press, New York: 177–197.Google Scholar
- Wootton, R. J., 1998. Ecology of Teleost Fishes, 2nd ed. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht: 386.Google Scholar