CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Marine & Freshwater Research   
Marine & Freshwater Research
Journal Banner
  Advances in the Aquatic Sciences
 
blank image Search
 
blank image blank image
blank image
 
  Advanced Search
   

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Board
Contacts
Content
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Research Fronts
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Instructions to Authors
Submit Article
Open Access
For Referees
General Information
Review Article
Referee Guidelines
Annual Referee Index
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with us
blank image
facebook twitter youtube

 

Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 63(7)

Short-term effects of a prolonged blackwater event on aquatic fauna in the Murray River, Australia: considerations for future events

A. J. King A B C , Z. Tonkin A and J. Lieshcke A

A Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Department of Sustainability and Environment, 123 Brown Street, Heidelberg, Vic. 3084, Australia.
B Present address: Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: Alison.King@cdu.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 63(7) 576-586 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF11275
Submitted: 13 December 2011  Accepted: 8 May 2012   Published: 27 June 2012


 
PDF (505 KB) $25
 Export Citation
 Print
  
Abstract

Blackwater contains high levels of dissolved organic carbon that can be rapidly consumed by microbes, sometimes leading to extremely low levels of dissolved oxygen (hypoxia) and drastic consequences for aquatic life, including fish kills. Drought-breaking rains in late 2010 inundated large areas of the Barmah–Millewa Forest, southern Murray–Darling Basin, Australia, and resulted in a prolonged hypoxic blackwater event within the forest and the Murray River downstream. This study investigated the short-term effects of the blackwater event on fish and crayfish. Compared with non-affected sites, blackwater affected sites had: significantly higher abundances of emerged Murray crayfish (Euastacus armatus) that were vulnerable to desiccation, predation and exploitation; large numbers of dead or dying shrimp and yabbies; significantly reduced abundances of native fish; but contained similar abundances of alien fish species (particularly common carp, Cyprinus carpio). The nature of the mechanisms that caused these changes and the longer term significance of the event on the river system remains an important area for future research. We also propose a range of management considerations for reducing the blackwater impacts, such as the timing of environmental water delivery after prolonged drought and the importance of maintaining river–floodplain connectivity during flood periods.

Additional keywords: crustaceans, drought, environmental management, environmental water management, fish kills, floodplain, Murray cod, Murray crayfish, river regulation.


References

Anderson, M. J. (2001). A new method for non-parametric multivariate analysis of variance. Austral Ecology 26, 32–46.

Anderson, M. J., Gorley, R. N., and Clarke, K. R. (2008). ‘PERMANOVA+ for PRIMER: Guide to software and statistical methods.’ (PRIMER-E: Plymouth, UK.)

Baldwin, D. S. (1999). Dissolved organic matter and phosphorus leached from fresh and ‘terrestrially’ aged river red gum leaves: implications for assessing river-floodplain interactions. Freshwater Biology 41, 675–685.
CrossRef | CAS |

Baldwin, D. S., and Whitworth, K. (2009). Current conditions in the Wakool River and the potential for blackwater events resulting in fish deaths. MDFRC Technical Report 1/2009. MDFRC, Wodonga.

Baldwin, D. S., Howitt, J., and Edward, M. (2001). Blackwater event. Austasia Aquaculture 15, 21.

Beesley, L., Howard, K., Joachim, L., and King, A. (2010). Cultural conservation of freshwater turtles in Barmah–Millewa Forest. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research Technical Report Series No. 203. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne.

Bishop, K. A. (1980). Fish kills in relation to physical and chemical changes in Magela Creek (East Alligator River System, Northern Territory) at the beginning of the tropical wet season. Australian Zoologist 20, 485–500.

Boulton, A. J., and Lake, P. S. (1992). Benthic organic matter and detritivorous macroinvertebrates in two intermittent streams in south-eastern Australia. Hydrobiologia 241, 107–118.
CrossRef | CAS |

Bren, L. J., and Gibbs, N. L. (1988). Relationships between flood frequency, vegetation and topography in a river red gum forest. Australian Forest Research 16, 357–370.

Carpenter, S. R., and Kitchell, J. F. (1993). ‘The trophic cascade in lake ecosystems.’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.)

Chapman, L. J., and Mackenzie, D. J. (2009). Behavioral responses and ecological consequences. In ‘Fish Physiology’. (Eds J. G. Richards, A. P. Farrell and C. J. Brauner.) pp. 25–77. (Academic Press: London.)

Chong, J., and Ladson, A. R. (2002). Analysis and management of unseasonal flooding in the Barmah–Millewa Forest, Australia. River Research and Applications 19, 161–180.
CrossRef |

Clarke, K. R., and Warwick, R. M. (2001). ‘Change in Marine Communities: an Approach to Statistical Analysis and Interpretation.’ 2nd edn. (PRIMER-E: Plymouth, UK.)

Craig, J. K., and Crowder, L. B. (2005). Hypoxia-induced habitat shifts and energetic consequences in Atlantic croaker and brown shrimp on the Gulf of Mexico shelf. Marine Ecology Progress Series 294, 79–94.
CrossRef |

Craig, J. K., Crowder, L. B., and Henwood, T. A. (2005). Spatial distribution of brown shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus) on the northwestern Gulf of Mexico shelf: effects of abundance and hypoxia. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 62, 1295–1308.
CrossRef |

Crook, D. A., and Gillanders, B. M. (2006). Use of otolith chemical signatures to estimate carp recruitment sources in the mid-Murray River, Australia. River Research and Applications 22, 871–879.

Downes, B. J., Barmuta, L. A., Fairweather, P. G., Faith, D. P., Keough, M. J., Lake, P. S., Mapstone, B. D., and Quinn, G. P. (2002). ‘Monitoring Ecological Impacts. Concepts and Practise in Flowing Waters.’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.)

Geddes, M. C., Musgrove, R. J., and Campbell, N. J. (1993). The feasibility of re-establishing the River Murray crayfish, Euastacus armatus, in the lower River Murray Freshwater Crayfish 9, 368–379.

Gehrke, P. C. (1988). Response surface analysis of teleost cardio-respiratory responses to temperature and dissolved oxygen. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A, Molecular and Integrative Physiology 89, 587–592.

Gehrke, P. C., Revel, M. B., and Philbey, A. W. (1993). Effects of river red gum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, litter on Golden perch, Macquaria ambigua. Journal of Fish Biology 43, 265–279.
CrossRef |

Gilligan, D., Rolls, R., Merrick, J., Lintermans, M., Duncan, P., and Koehn, J. (2007). Scoping the knowledge requirements for Murray crayfish (Euastacus armatus). Report to MDBC. NSW Department of Primary Industries, Cronulla.

Hladyz, S., Watkins, S. C., Whitworth, K. L., and Baldwin, D. S. (2011). Flows and hypoxic blackwater events in managed ephemeral river channels. Journal of Hydrology (Amsterdam) 401, 117–125.
CrossRef | CAS |

Horwitz, P. (1995). The conservation status of Australian freshwater crayfish: review and update. Freshwater Crayfish 10, 70–80.

Howitt, J., Baldwin, D., Rees, G., and Williams, J. (2007). Modelling blackwater: predicting water quality during flooding of lowland river forests. Ecological Modelling 203, 229–242.
CrossRef |

Junk, W. J., Bayley, P. B., and Sparks, R. E. (1989). The flood pulse concept in river–floodplain systems. Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 106, 110–127.

King, A. J. (2005). Fish in the Barmah–Millewa Forest – history, status and management challenges. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 11, 117–126.

King, A. J., Tonkin, Z., and Mahoney, J. M. (2007). Assessing the effectiveness of environmental flows on fish recruitment in Barmah–Millewa Forest. Report to Murray–Darling Basin Commission. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne.

King, A. J., Ward, K. A., O’Connor, P., Green, D., Tonkin, Z., and Mahoney, J. (2010). Adaptive management of an environmental watering event to enhance native fish spawning and recruitment. Freshwater Biology 55, 17–31.
CrossRef |

Koehn, J. D., Brumley, A. R., and Gehrke, P. C. (2000). ‘Managing the Impacts of Carp.’ (Bureau of Resource Sciences: Canberra.)

Koehn, J. D., McKenzie, J. A., O’Mahony, D. J., Nicol, S. J., O’Connor, J. P., and O’Connor, W. G. (2009). Movements of Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii) in a large Australian lowland river. Ecology Freshwater Fish 18, 594–602.
CrossRef |

Leitch, C. (1989). Towards a strategy for managing the flooding requirements of Barmah Forest. Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands, Benalla.

Mallen-Cooper, M., Koehn, J., King, A., Stuart, I., and Zampatti, Z. (2007). Risk assessment of the proposed Chowilla regulator and managed floodplain inundations on fish. Fishway consulting services and Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Melbourne.

McKinnon, L. J. (1995). Emersion of Murray crayfish, Euastacus armatus (Decapoda: Parastacidae), from the Murray River due to post-flood water quality. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 107, 31–37.

McKinnon, L. J., and Shepheard, N. (1995). Factors contributing to a fish kill in Broken Creek. The Victorian Naturalist 112, 173–175.

McMaster, D., and Bond, N. (2008). A field and experimental study on the tolerances of fish to Eucalyptus camaldulensis leachate and low dissolved oxygen concentrations. Marine and Freshwater Research 59, 177–185.
CrossRef | CAS |

McNeil, D. G., and Closs, G. P. (2007). Behavioural responses of a south-east Australian floodplain fish community to gradual hypoxia. Freshwater Biology 52, 412–420.
CrossRef | CAS |

MDBC (2007). ‘Sustainable Rivers Audit Protocols – Approved Manual for Implementation Period 4: 2007–08.’ (Murray–Darling Basin Commission: Canberra.)

MDBMC (2001). ‘Interim operating rules and triggers for the use of the Barmah–Millewa Forest water allocation.’ (Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council, Canberra.)

Meyer, J. L. (1990). A blackwater perspective on riverine ecosystems. Bioscience 40, 643–651.
CrossRef |

Morrongiello, J. R. (2011). Life history variation along environmental gradients in a freshwater fish, the southern pygmy perch Nannoperca australis. Ph.D. Thesis, Monash University, Melbourne.

Morrongiello, J. R., Bond, N. R., Crook, D. A., and Wong, B. B. M. (2011). Eucalyptus leachate inhibits reproduction in a freshwater fish. Freshwater Biology 56, 1736–1745.
CrossRef |

O’Connell, M. F., Baldwin, D. S., Robertson, A. I., and Rees, G. (2000). Release and bioavailability of dissolved organic matter from floodplain litter: influence of origin and oxygen levels. Freshwater Biology 45, 333–342.
| CAS |

O’Connor, J. P., O’Mahoney, D. J., and O’Mahoney, J. M. (2005). Movements of Macquaria ambigua, in the Murray River, south-eastern Australia. Journal of Fish Biology 66, 392–403.
CrossRef |

Qualls, R. G., and Haines, B. L. (1992). Biodegradability of dissolved organic matter in forest throughfall, soil solution, and stream water. Soil Science Society of America Journal 56, 578–586.
CrossRef | CAS |

Richardson, B. A. (1981). Fish kill in the Belmore River, Macleay River drainage, NSW, and the possible influence of flood mitigation works. In ‘Proceedings of the Floodplain Management Conference’. (Canberra, AGPS: Canberra.)

Robertson, A. I., Bunn, S. E., Boon, P. I., and Walker, K. (1999). Sources, sinks and transformations of organic carbon in Australian floodplain rivers. Marine and Freshwater Research 50, 813–829.
CrossRef | CAS |

Sparks, R. E. (1995). Need for ecosystem management of large rivers and their floodplains. Bioscience 45, 168–182.
CrossRef |

Stuart, I. G., and Jones, M. (2006). Large, regulated forest floodplain is an ideal recruitment zone for non-native common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.). Marine and Freshwater Research 57, 337–347.
CrossRef |

Thoms, M. C., Suter, P., Roberts, J., Koehn, J. D., Jones, G., Hillman, T. J., and Close, A. (2000). ‘Report of the River Murray scientific panel on environmental flows. River Murray – Dartmouth to Wellington and the Lower Darling River.’ (Murray–Darling Basin Commission: Canberra.)

Towns, D. R. (1985). Limnological characteristics of a South Australian intermittent stream brown-hill creek. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36, 821–838.
CrossRef |

Townsend, S. A., and Edwards, C. A. (2003). A fish kill event, hypoxia and other limnological impacts associated with early wet season flow into a lake on the Mary River floodplain, tropical northern Australia. Lakes and Reservoirs: Research and Management 8, 169–176.
CrossRef |

Usio, N., and Townsend, C. R. (2004). Roles of crayfish: consequences of predation and bioturbation for stream invertebrates. Ecology 85, 807–822.
CrossRef |

Watkins, S., Quinn, G., and Gawne, B. (2010). Changes in organic matter dynamics and physicochemistry associated with riparian vegetation loss and river regulation in floodplain wetlands of the Murray River, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 61, 1207–1217.
CrossRef | CAS |

Whitworth, K. L., Baldwin, D. S., and Kerr, J. L. (). Drought, floods and water quality: Drivers of a severe hypoxic blackwater event in a major river system (the southern Murray–Darling Basin, Australia). Journal of Hydrology , .
CrossRef |

Wu, R. S. S. (2009). Effects of hypoxia on fish reproduction and development. In ‘Fish Physiology’. (Eds J. G. Richards, A. P. Farrell and C. J. Brauner.) pp. 79–141. (Academic Press: London.)


   
Subscriber Login
Username:
Password:  

 
    
Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help

CSIRO

© CSIRO 1996-2014