Pacific Conservation Biology Pacific Conservation Biology Society
A journal dedicated to conservation and wildlife management in the Pacific region.
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Resolving the taxonomy, range and ecology of biogeographically isolated and critically endangered populations of an Australian freshwater galaxiid, Galaxias truttaceus

David L. Morgan A H , Stephen J. Beatty A , Paul G. Close B , Mark G. Allen A C , Peter J. Unmack D , Michael P. Hammer E and Mark Adams F G
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Freshwater Fish Group and Fish Health Unit, Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

B Centre for Excellence in Natural Resource Management, The University of Western Australia, Albany, WA 6330, Australia.

C Present address: Department of Aquatic Zoology, Western Australian Museum, Locked Bag 49, Welshpool DC, WA 6986, Australia.

D Institute for Applied Ecology and Collaborative Research Network for Murray–Darling Basin Futures, University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

E Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, PO Box 4646, Darwin, NT 0801, Australia.

F Evolutionary Biology Unit, South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia.

G Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity, School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

H Corresponding author. Email: D.Morgan@murdoch.edu.au

Pacific Conservation Biology 22(4) 350-359 https://doi.org/10.1071/PC15043
Submitted: 18 November 2015  Accepted: 10 May 2016   Published: 4 July 2016

Abstract

The spotted galaxias (or trout minnow), Galaxias truttaceus, is a species that is restricted to south-western and south-eastern Australia, but there has long been conjecture as to whether the geographically and Critically Endangered Western Australian populations represent a subspecies (Galaxias truttaceus hesperius). We provide evidence that Western Australian populations, on the basis of a combination of genetic, geographic and ecological criteria, should be considered an evolutionary significant unit, which merits management as a high conservation priority. Substructure at nuclear and matrilineal genetic markers is not suggestive of species-level divergence, but rather of discrete western and eastern Australian subpopulations with limited contemporary gene flow. In contrast to many eastern populations that are diadromous, all western populations are potamodromous. Adults live and spawn in riverine habitats and larvae drift downstream to coastal lakes, where they spend several months, before undertaking a distinct upstream recruitment migration as juveniles to colonise riverine habitats. Instream barriers that disconnect riverine and lentic habitats restrict distributional range and presumably affect reproductive success of Western Australian populations. Conserving the remaining populations in Western Australia will require ongoing efforts to reduce the impact of emerging threats, particularly those related to instream barriers, introduced species and reductions in water quantity and quality.

Additional keywords: disjunct populations, fishway, flow reductions, Galaxias truttaceus hesperius, Galaxiidae, river regulation, South-western Province.


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