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

Monitoring by telemetry reveals differences in movement and survival following hatchery or wild rearing of an endangered fish

B. C. Ebner A B D and J. D. Thiem A C

A Parks, Conservation and Lands, Department of Territory and Municipal Services, ACT Government, GPO Box 158, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B Present address: Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld 4111, Australia.

C Present address: Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT 2601, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 60(1) 45-57
Submitted: 7 February 2008  Accepted: 31 August 2008   Published: 29 January 2009


Species reintroduction is a management strategy used to conserve endemic fish biodiversity. The present study investigated stocking on-grown endangered trout cod (Maccullochella macquariensis) in the Murrumbidgee River, Australia. The hypothesis that post-juvenile dispersal underpins the long-term scarcity of adults recorded at fingerling stocking locations was also tested. Radio-tracking was used to quantify dispersal of stocked sub-adults (2-year old hatchery fish, n = 27) compared with fish originally stocked as fingerlings (unknown-age wild fish, n = 31), but we encountered poor survivorship of the former group (survivorship = 9% and 95%, respectively, at 13 months post release). The hatchery group exhibited both limited dispersal and large-scale dispersal (up to 55 km) downstream from the release site. Wild fish exhibited limited net dispersal, occupying home-ranges within a 13-km reach and occasionally undertook large-scale excursions (10–70 km). It is concluded that (1) re-establishment of cod populations based on release of on-grown fish is not straightforward, and (2) adults of this species have an ability to disperse away from stocking sites. The study demonstrates the benefit of using radio-tracking to monitor the movement and survivorship of stocked threatened fish and indicates a need to consider the effects of hatchery rearing when conducting fish reintroductions.

Additional keywords: dispersal, hatchery, Maccullochella, radio-tracking, reintroduction, survivorship.


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