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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 60(1)

Monitoring by telemetry reveals differences in movement and survival following hatchery or wild rearing of an endangered fish

B. C. Ebner A B D, J. D. Thiem A C

A Parks, Conservation and Lands, Department of Territory and Municipal Services, ACT Government, GPO Box 158, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.
B Present address: Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld 4111, Australia.
C Present address: Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT 2601, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: b.ebner@griffith.edu.au
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Species reintroduction is a management strategy used to conserve endemic fish biodiversity. The present study investigated stocking on-grown endangered trout cod (Maccullochella macquariensis) in the Murrumbidgee River, Australia. The hypothesis that post-juvenile dispersal underpins the long-term scarcity of adults recorded at fingerling stocking locations was also tested. Radio-tracking was used to quantify dispersal of stocked sub-adults (2-year old hatchery fish, n = 27) compared with fish originally stocked as fingerlings (unknown-age wild fish, n = 31), but we encountered poor survivorship of the former group (survivorship = 9% and 95%, respectively, at 13 months post release). The hatchery group exhibited both limited dispersal and large-scale dispersal (up to 55 km) downstream from the release site. Wild fish exhibited limited net dispersal, occupying home-ranges within a 13-km reach and occasionally undertook large-scale excursions (10–70 km). It is concluded that (1) re-establishment of cod populations based on release of on-grown fish is not straightforward, and (2) adults of this species have an ability to disperse away from stocking sites. The study demonstrates the benefit of using radio-tracking to monitor the movement and survivorship of stocked threatened fish and indicates a need to consider the effects of hatchery rearing when conducting fish reintroductions.

Keywords: dispersal, hatchery, Maccullochella, radio-tracking, reintroduction, survivorship.

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