Fish recruitment and survivorship in ephemeral floodplains

Fish Recruitment and Survivorship in Ephemeral Floodplains

Investigator
Derek Oscar Cruz 
PhD Candidate 
d.cruz@unsw.edu.au

Research Supervisors
Prof Angela Arthington (Griffith University), Prof Richard Kingsford, Prof Iain Suthers, Dr Thomas Rayner

 

The Role of Ephemeral floodplains habitats in the recruitment and survivorship of juvenile and small bodied arid-zone fish

The scientific understanding between fish and floodplain relationships is limited and debate still reigns concerning fundamental aspects of Australia’s freshwater fish community structure and ecosystem function. Bridging these knowledge gaps is critically important to the optimal design of environmental flow releases from dams that target floodplain and other water management strategies towards restoring native fish communities while suppressing alien species. This is a key initiative given the significant investment of Riverbank and Commonwealth’s Water for the Future program.

To date, environmental water has been used primarily to stimulate and support the breeding of threatened colonial-nesting waterbirds and to improve the health of floodplain vegetation. However, as knowledge of flow-biota relationships improve, so too does interest in extending and documenting the ecological benefits of environmental flows for native fish species. Current research at the Centre for Ecosystem Science is addressing knowledge gaps by documenting fish use of floodplain habitats in semi-arid rivers along four major lines of inquiry: fish habitat use on floodplains; patterns and timing of fish recruitment during flood events; rates of fish growth on floodplains relative to main channels; and vulnerability of juvenile native fish to predation by invasive fish in floodplains habitats.

This research is advancing the knowledge of mechanisms involved with complex fish recruitment dynamics in Australia’s variable freshwater systems towards guiding the future delivery of environmental flows in arid-zone rivers to support native fish populations.

Research Program: 
Aquatic Species Ecology
Research Themes: 
Rivers and Wetlands
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