Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

The effect of water level on lateral movements of fish between river and off-channel habitats and implications for management

Jarod Lyon A B D , Ivor Stuart A C , David Ramsey A and Justin O’Mahony A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

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

B The Environment Institute and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia.

C Present address: Kingfisher Research, 20 Chapman Street, Diamond Creek, Vic. 3089, Australia.

D Corrresponding author. Email: jarod.lyon@dse.vic.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 61(3) 271-278 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF08246
Submitted: 28 August 2008  Accepted: 26 June 2009   Published: 29 March 2010

Abstract

Off-channel habitats, such as wetlands and backwaters, are important for the productivity of river systems and for many species of native fish. This study aimed to investigate the fish community, timing and cues that stimulated movement to and from off-channel habitats in the highly regulated Lake Hume to Lake Mulwala reach of the Murray River, south-eastern Australia. In 2004–05, 193 712 fish were collected moving bi-directionally between a 50-km section of the Murray River and several off-channel habitats. Lateral fish movements approximated water level fluctuations. Generally as water levels rose, fish left the main river channel and moved into newly flooded off-channel habitats; there was bi-directional movement as water levels peaked; on falling levels fish moved back to the permanent riverine habitats. Fish previously classified as ‘wetland specialists’, such as carp gudgeons (Hypseleotris spp.), have a more flexible movement and life-history strategy including riverine habitation. The high degree of lateral movement indicates the importance of habitat connectivity for the small-bodied fish community. Wetlands adjacent to the Murray River are becoming increasingly regulated by small weirs and ensuring lateral fish movement will be important in maintaining riverine-wetland biodiversity.

Additional keywords: Australia, carp gudgeon, floodplain, Murray River.


Acknowledgements

The authors thank Kris Pittman and Karl Pomorin for help with the surveys. Zeb Tonkin, Justin O’Connor and John Koehn (Arthur Rylah Institute), Martin Mallen-Cooper and two anonymous referees improved an earlier draft of the manuscript. This work was carried out under NSW DPI collecting permit F93/158. This project was funded under the Murray–Darling Basin Commission’s Living Murray Program. This project was carried out under Department of Sustainability and Environment ethics permit AEC 04/003 and under Adelaide University Animal Ethics approval number 0000009058.


References

Balcombe, S. R. , and Closs, G. P. (2004). Variation in carp gudgeon (Hypseleotris spp.) abundance in dense macrophytes. Journal of Freshwater Ecology 15, 389–395.


Balcombe, S. R. , and Humphries, P. (2006). Diets of gudgeons (Hypseleotris spp.) in an Australian floodplain billabong: the role of water level stability. Journal of Fish Biology 68, 1484–1493.
CrossRef |

Barrett, J. , and Mallen-Cooper, M. (2006). The Murray River’s ‘Sea to Hume Dam’ fish passage program: progress to date and lessons learned. Ecological Management & Restoration 7, 173–183.
CrossRef |

Bates D. (2007). ‘lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using S4 classes. R package version 0.99875–9.’ Available at http://cran.r-project.org/ [accessed 9 July 2008].

Baumgartner, L. , Stuart, I. , and Zampatti, B. (2008). Diel variation in accumulations of fish downstream of three weirs in a regulated lowland river. Journal of Fish Biology 72, 218–232.


Bond, N. R. , Lake, P. S. , and Arthington, A. H. (2008). The impacts of drought on freshwater ecosystems: an Australian perspective. Hydrobiologia 600, 3–16.
CrossRef |

Burnham K. P., and Anderson D. R. (1998). ‘Model Selection and Inference: A Practical Information-Theoretic Approach.’ (Springer-Verlag: New York.)

Castello, L. (2008). Lateral migration of Arapaima gigas in floodplains of the Amazon. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 17, 38–46.
CrossRef |

Copp, G. H. (1997). Importance of marinas and off-channel water bodies as refuges for young fishes in a regulated lowland river. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 13, 303–307.
CrossRef |

Darlington J. (1957). ‘Zoogeography: The Geographical Distribution of Animals.’ (John Wiley & Sons, Inc: New York.)

Dexter, D. B. , Rose, H. J. , and Davies, N. (1986). River regulation and associated forest management problems in the River Murray red gum forests. Australian Forestry 49, 16–27.


Gehrke, P. C. , and Harris, J. H. (2000). Large-scale patterns in species richness and composition of temperate riverine fish communities, south-eastern Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 51, 165–182.
CrossRef |

Gelman A., and Hill J. (2006). ‘Data Analysis Using Regression and Multilevel/Hierarchical Models.’ (Cambridge University Press: New York.)

Hohausova, E. , Copp, G. H. , and Jankovsky, P. (2003). Movement of fish between a river and its backwater: diel activity and relation to environmental gradients. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 12, 107–117.
CrossRef |

Jones, M. J. , and Stuart, I. G. (2008). Regulated floodplains – a trap for unwary fish. Fisheries Management and Ecology 15, 71–79.


Jungwirth M. (1998). River continuum and fish migration – going beyond the longitudinal river corridor in understanding ecological integrity. In ‘Fish Migration and Fish Bypasses’. (Eds M. Jungwirth, S. Schmutz and S. Weiss.) pp. 19–32. (Blackwell Science: Oxford.)

Jungwirth, M. , Muhar, S. , and Schmutz, S. (2002). Re-establishing and assessing ecological integrity in riverine landscapes. Freshwater Biology 47, 867–887.
CrossRef |

Junk, W. J. , Bayley, P. B. , and Sparks, R. E. (1989). The flood pulse concept in river–floodplain systems. Canadian Special Publication in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 106, 110–127.


Lasne, E. , Lek, S. , and Laffaille, P. (2007). Patterns in fish assemblages in the Loire floodplain: The role of hydrological connectivity and implications for conservation. Biological Conservation 139, 258–268.
CrossRef |

Mallen-Cooper M. (1999). Developing fishways for non-salmonid fishes; a case study from the Murray River in Australia. In ‘Innovations in Fish Passage Technology’. (Ed. M. Odeh.) pp. 173–195. (American Fisheries Society: Bethesda.)

McCarthy B., Nielsen D., Baldwin D., Meredith S., Roberts J., et al. (2006). Barmah Wetland System Environmental Monitoring Program. Part B: Monitoring Program. Report to the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority. Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, Wodonga.

Nicol, S. J. , Lieschke, J. A. , Lyon, J. P. , and Koehn, J. D. (2004). Observations on the distribution and abundance of carp and native fish, and their responses to a habitat restoration trial in the Murray River, Australia. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 38, 541–551.


Nicola, G. G. , Elvira, B. , and Almod’ovar, A. (1996). Dams and fish passage facilities in the large rivers of Spain: effects on migratory species. Archiv fuer Hydrobiologie 113(Suppl.), 375–379.


Northcote T. G. (1998). Migratory behaviour of fish and its significance to movement through riverine passage facilities. In ‘Fish Migration and Fish Bypasses’. (Eds M. Jungwirth, S. Schmutz and S. Weiss.) pp. 3–18. (Blackwell Science Publications: Oxford.)

RDevelopment Core Team (2007). ‘R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing.’ (Vienna, Austria.) Available at http://www.R-project.org [accessed 9 July 2008].

Ricciardi, A. , and Rasmussen, J. B. (1998). Predicting the identity and impact of future biological invaders: a priority for aquatic resource management. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 55, 1759–1765.
CrossRef |

Roach, K. A. , Winemiller, K. O. , Layman, C. A. , and Zeug, S. C. (2009). Consistent trophic patterns among fishes in lagoon and channel habitats of a tropical floodplain river: Evidence from stable isotopes. Acta Oecologica 35, 513–522.
CrossRef |

Sherman, B. , Todd, C. R. , Koehn, J. D. , and Ryan, T. (2007). Modelling the impact and potential mitigation of cold water pollution on Murray cod populations downstream of Hume Dam, Australia. River Research and Applications 23, 377–389.
CrossRef |

Stuart, I. G. , Zampatti, B. P. , and Baumgartner, L. J. (2008). Can a low gradient vertical-slot fishway provide passage for a lowland river fish community? Marine and Freshwater Research 59, 332–346.
CrossRef |

Suarez, Y. R. , Junior, M. P. , and Catella, A. C. (2004). Factors regulating diversity and abundance of fish communities in Pantanal lagoons, Brazil. Fisheries Management and Ecology 11, 45–50.
CrossRef |

Sullivan, S. M. P. , and Watzin, M. C. (2009). Stream-floodplain connectivity and fish assemblage diversity in the Champlain Valley, Vermont, U.S.A. Journal of Fish Biology 74, 1394–1418.
CrossRef |

Walker, K. F. , Hillman, T. J. , and Williams, W. D. (1978). Effects of impoundments on rivers: an Australian case study. Internationale Vereinigung für Theoretische und Aggewandte Limnologie 20, 1695–1701.


Williams J. G. (1998). Fish passage in the Columbia River, USA and its tributaries: problems and solutions. In ‘Fish Migration and Fish Bypasses’. (Eds M. Jungwirth, S. Schmutz and S. Weiss.) pp. 180–191. (Blackwell Science Publications: Oxford.)

Wilson G. G. (2005). Impact of invasive exotic fishes on wetland ecosystems in the Murray-Darling Basin. In ‘Native fish and wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin: Action plan, knowledge gaps and supporting papers’. Proceedings from a workshop held in Canberra, 7–8 June 2005. pp. 45–60. Available at http://www.mdbc.gov.au/__data/page/1194/MDBC10930_WEB_-_4.pdf.

Zeug, S. C. , and Winemiller, K. O. (2008). Relationships between hydrology, spatial heterogeneity, and fish recruitment dynamics in a temperate floodplain river. River Research and Applications 24, 90–102.
CrossRef |


Full Text PDF (258 KB) Export Citation Cited By (29)