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

Jailbreak: a fishway releases the endangered Macquarie perch from confinement below an anthropogenic barrier

B. T. Broadhurst A B E , B. C. Ebner B C , M. Lintermans A B , J. D. Thiem A D and R. C. Clear A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Parks, Conservation & Lands, Territory & Municipal Services, GPO Box 158, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

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

C Present address: Tropical Landscapes Joint Venture, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences & TropWATER, PO Box 780, 47 Maunds Road, Atherton, Qld 4883, Australia.

D Present address: Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel Bay Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6, Canada.

E Corresponding author. Email: ben.broadhurst@canberra.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 64(9) 900-908 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF12245
Submitted: 6 September 2012  Accepted: 24 June 2013   Published: 6 September 2013

Abstract

Management interventions are often needed to facilitate the recovery of ecosystems affected as a result of human alteration. Population-level monitoring is often central to evaluating the effectiveness of specific on-ground actions. In the present study, we assessed the response of a remnant population of the endangered Macquarie perch (Macquaria australasica) to the construction of a rock ramp fishway on the Cotter River, Australia, over a 7-year period. Prior to fishway construction, this obligate riverine spawner had been previously confined to Cotter Reservoir and six kilometres of stream by a raised road-crossing. Surveys conducted in the 2 years following fishway completion failed to detect Macquarie perch upstream of the fishway. Subsequent surveys (6–7 years post-fishway completion) detected Macquarie perch up to 12 km upstream of the fishway. The number and distribution of smaller-sized individuals (0+ (<100-mm total length (TL) and 1+ (100- to >150-mm TL)) suggests that individuals found upstream of the fishway are resident stream fish and not fish that have migrated from known downstream spawning areas. The success of the fishway has been timely because enlargement of a downstream reservoir will inundate four kilometres of river and destroy the majority of spawning sites of this species downstream of the fishway in the Cotter River.

Additional keywords: distribution, fish passage, long-term assessment, Macquaria, Percichthyidae, rock-ramp fishway.


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