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

Is climate change driving recruitment failure in Australian bass Macquaria novemaculeata in southern latitudes of the species range?

Daniel J. Stoessel A C , John R. Morrongiello B , Tarmo A. Raadik A , Jarod Lyon A and Peter Fairbrother A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Department of Environment Land, Water and Planning, 123 Brown Street, Heidelberg, Vic. 3084, Australia.

B School of Biosciences, The University of Melbourne, Vic. 3010, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: daniel.j.stoessel@delwp.vic.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 69(1) 24-36 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF17173
Submitted: 8 June 2017  Accepted: 18 August 2017   Published: 14 September 2017

Abstract

Flow regimes have been fundamentally altered in many of the world’s river systems. There is a need to restore components of natural flow variability to protect freshwater biodiversity. The Australian bass is a long-lived, catadromous percichthyid endemic to coastal drainages of south-eastern Australia. Little is known of the timing and magnitude of flows considered important for recruitment and growth of individuals in southern latitudes of the species range. Herein we generate nearly 50 years of otolith-derived recruitment and growth histories for Australian bass and relate these to hydrologic, climatic and demographic variables. We found that younger Australian bass grew fastest in years following a cooler spring, whereas the growth of older fish exhibited little response to temperature. Australian bass year class strength was positively related to high flows in spring and in a negative curvilinear way to spring temperature. A lack of suitable natural flows in spring may be responsible for little to no recruitment of Australian bass in the Genoa River over the past two decades. Based on our findings, the continuing trend of lower rainfall and higher temperatures, coupled with river regulation in some systems in the region, will likely result in depressed juvenile growth and prolonged periods of recruitment failure over the medium to longer term, with significant implications for the viability of populations.


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