Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

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

B. C. Ebner A B D and J. D. Thiem A C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

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

Marine and Freshwater Research 60(1) 45-57 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF08027
Submitted: 7 February 2008  Accepted: 31 August 2008   Published: 29 January 2009

Abstract

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.

Additional keywords: dispersal, hatchery, Maccullochella, radio-tracking, reintroduction, survivorship.


Acknowledgements

The idea for this comparison of wild and hatchery trout cod came from discussion with I. Wooden. We are also grateful to the project Steering Committee. V. Carracher, D. Gilligan, S. Godschalx, M. Jekabsons, L. Rava, M. Stimson and I. Wooden assisted with wild fish collection. Staff at the Snobs Creek Research Station, including P. Boyd, B. Ingram and P. Ryder reared fish and provided support. S. Godschalx assisted in surgery. L. Baumgartner, B. Broadhurst, S. Godschalx, M. Jekabsons, L. Johnston, M. Lintermans, P. Maclean, M. McLellan, M. Stimson and S. Thurstan provided field assistance. S. Thurstan also provided advice that influenced the project. State Water staff including L. Beck, M. Deaton, M. McNamara and E. Taylor mounted the telemetry aerials at Yanco Weir. M. Dunford provided invaluable GIS support, M. Evans and E. Harrison provided statistical advice and S. Vink provided water quality data. Input from D. Gilligan, K. Frawley, B. Ingram, M. Lintermans and K. Ryan improved versions of this manuscript. Two anonymous reviewers also improved this manuscript. This research was funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Environment ACT and NSW Department of Primary Industries with additional contributions from Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology, Murray–Darling Basin Commission, the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, RecFish Australia, NSW State Water and the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources. This study was performed under NSW Fisheries Animal Care and Ethics Committee authorisation 03/07 in Wiradjuri Country.


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