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

Importance of the natural flow regime to an amphidromous shrimp: a case study

Peter A. Novak A D , Erica A. Garcia A , Bradley J. Pusey B and Michael M. Douglas A C

A Charles Darwin University, Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods, Ellengowan Drive, Casuarina, NT 0909, Australia.

B University of Western Australia, Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia.

C Present address: University of Western Australia, School of Earth and Environment, M004, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: peter.novak@cdu.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16034
Submitted: 2 February 2016  Accepted: 19 May 2016   Published online: 27 July 2016

Abstract

Amphidromous shrimp inhabiting large river systems are thought to migrate downstream to hatch larvae close to the estuary or sea. Recent work on Macrobrachium spinipes in northern Australia challenged this hypothesis, with the discovery of abundant females in reproductive condition over 400 km upstream. We investigated the early life history of M. spinipes by using a combination of field sampling, laboratory experiments and modelling. We determined the spatial and temporal production of larvae, larval salinity requirements, and, finally, the potential for transport of larvae to the estuary during the wet season. Larvae occurred in high abundances across a 400-km river reach. However, successful larval development was contingent on access, by drift, to saltwater within 7 days. This interval is longer than that found for the majority of amphidromous shrimp species and we propose that larvae in the study river are able to successfully moult through the early stages in freshwater. Large, wet-season discharge events were critical for transporting larvae from all sampled sites to the estuary. The present study confirmed the amphidromous life history of M. spinipes, highlighted the importance of natural flows for maintaining existing populations and provided evidence of a novel type of amphidromous life-history strategy.

Additional keywords: amphidromy, crustacean, early life history, larval drift, northern Australia, survival.


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