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

Environmental Water Allocations in regulated lowland rivers may encourage offstream movements and spawning by common carp, Cyprinus carpio: implications for wetland rehabilitation

Anthony J. Conallin A B D , Ben B. Smith B C , Leigh A. Thwaites B , Keith F. Walker A and Bronwyn M. Gillanders A

A School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

B Inland Waters and Catchment Ecology Program, SARDI Aquatic Sciences, West Beach, SA 5024, Australia.

C Present address: Sustainable Water Resources, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Present address: Murray Catchment Management Authority, PO Box 797, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia. Email: anthony.conallin@cma.nsw.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 63(10) 865-877 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF12044
Submitted: 12 February 2012  Accepted: 24 July 2012   Published: 31 October 2012

Abstract

Environmental Water Allocations (EWAs) are used to enhance native flora and fauna in regulated rivers, but may also benefit alien invasive species like common carp (Cyprinus carpio). We examined the invasion and spawning risk posed by adult common carp during an EWA delivered from the River Murray to a flow-through wetland in South Australia from June to December 2008. Offstream movements of fish and turtles were monitored continuously via the inlet and outlet creeks. Long-necked turtles (Chelodina longicollis, n = 129) dominated at the inlet where few fish were collected (n = 24), whereas much larger numbers of common carp in prime spawning condition (n = 4709), alien goldfish (Carassius auratus, n = 1201) and native bony herring (Nematalosa erebi, n = 93) were attracted to the outlet and displayed distinct movements. Adult common carp movements began in August, in response to increasing water temperatures, peaked in mid-September before spawning, then declined and were close to zero by December. The timing of EWA deliveries potentially could be manipulated to reduce adult carp invasion and spawning potential while providing some advantage to native fish, but the benefits may be short-lived without additional carp management interventions such as wetland drying.

Additional keywords: Chelidae, Cyprinidae, environmental flows, floodplain management, introduced fish, lateral movement, Murray–Darling Basin, pest control, pest fish, pest management, trap avoidance/shyness, turtles.


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