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

Migration patterns and estuarine aggregations of a catadromous fish, Australian bass (Percalates novemaculeata) in a regulated river system

D. J. Harding A F , R. G. Dwyer B , T. M. Mullins A , M. J. Kennard C , R. D. Pillans D and D. T. Roberts E

A Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Landcentre, Corner Main and Vulture Street, Woolloongabba, Qld 4102, Australia.

B School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4067, Australia.

C Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Road, Nathan, Qld 4111, Australia.

D CSIRO, Oceans and Atmosphere, Ecosciences Precinct, 41 Boggo Road, Dutton Park, Qld 4102, Australia.

E Queensland Bulk Water Supply Authority (Seqwater), 117 Brisbane Street, Ipswich, Qld 4305, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: douglas.harding@dnrm.qld.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16125
Submitted: 8 April 2016  Accepted: 16 November 2016   Published online: 9 January 2017

Abstract

Catadromous fish species require adequate flows to migrate between fresh and saltwater habitats to reproduce. However, artificial barriers and flow alteration affect fish populations by reducing habitat connectivity and disrupting movement cues. In regulated rivers, it is critical that migratory flow requirements are quantified to optimise water allocation for multiple users. In the present study, we assessed the migratory timing, flow and estuarine aggregation requirements for Australian bass (Percalates novemaculeata). Over 2 years, 66 bass were tracked using an acoustic receiver array in the Logan River (Qld, Australia). Bass performed large-scale downstream movements in response to elevated winter flows (40 and 108 m3 s–1), which facilitated migration to the lower estuary, where salinity conditions were appropriate for spawning. Bass migrations occurred only when gonads were mature, despite large flows providing opportunities for movement outside this period. Experimental flow releases from an impoundment (2.1 m3 s–1) during winter did not elicit a migratory response. Connectivity between upstream and estuarine habitats was reduced by the presence of instream weirs, with downstream movement across weirs occurring only when sufficient flow magnitude was achieved (>76.1 m3 s–1). These findings are relevant for water resource managers formulating environmental flow rules for catadromous fish species in systems with multiple instream artificial barriers.

Additional keywords: acoustic telemetry, barrier, diadromous, estuary, flow, spawning, water resource development.


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