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

Mortality of larval Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii) and golden perch (Macquaria ambigua) associated with passage through two types of low-head weirs

Lee J. Baumgartner A B , Nathan Reynoldson A and Dean M. Gilligan A

A Narrandera Fisheries Centre, PO Box 182, Narrandera, NSW 2700, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 57(2) 187-191
Submitted: 19 May 2005  Accepted: 11 January 2006   Published: 23 February 2006


Determining factors responsible for increases in the mortality of freshwater fish larvae are important for the conservation of recruitment processes and for the long-term sustainability of freshwater fish populations. To assess the impact of one such process, Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii Mitchell) and golden perch (Macquaria ambigua Richardson) larvae were arranged into treatment and control groups and passed through different configurations (overshot and undershot) of a low-level weir. Passage through an undershot weir resulted in the death of 95 ± 1% golden perch and 52 ± 13% Murray cod. By comparison, mortality was significantly lower in the overshot treatment and both controls. The relatively large number of undershot weirs within the known distribution of these species could impact upon recruitment over a large scale. It is therefore recommended that water management authorities consider the potential threats of operating undershot gated weirs on the survival of larval fish until further research determines appropriate mitigatory measures for these and other species.

Extra keywords: downstream dispersal, fish passage, larval drift, overshot, undershot.


We thank Matthew McLellan, Les Rava, Mark Stimson and Stephen Thurstan for supplying the larvae and also for providing access to the experimental channel and larval rearing facilities. Leo Cameron and Vanessa Carracher assisted with the experiments. Craig Boys, Bob Creese, Steve Kennelly and Stuart Rowland provided helpful comments on the manuscript. The work was funded by State Water (NSW) and carried out under NSW Fisheries ACEC permit number 03/10.


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