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

Extinct habitat, extant species: lessons learned from conservation recovery actions for the Pedder galaxias (Galaxias pedderensis) in south-west Tasmania, Australia

Stuart Chilcott A B , Rob Freeman A H , Peter E. Davies A C , David A. Crook A D , Wayne Fulton A E , Premck Hamr A F , David Jarvis A B and Andrew C. Sanger A G
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Inland Fisheries Service, 17 Back River Road, New Norfolk, Tas. 7140, Australia.

B Present address: Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, PO Box 44, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.

C Present address: Freshwater Systems, 82 Waimea Avenue, Sandy Bay, Tas. 7005, Australia.

D Present address: Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.

E Present address: Wayne Fulton Consulting, 12 Albert Street, Alexandra, Vic. 3714, Australia.

F Present address: Upper Canada College, 200 Lonsdale Road, Toronto, Ontario M4V 1W6, Canada.

G Present address: NSW Department of Primary Industry, 3/556 Macauley Street, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia.

H Corresponding author. Email: Rob.Freeman@ifs.tas.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 64(9) 864-873 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF12257
Submitted: 14 September 2012  Accepted: 23 April 2013   Published: 6 September 2013

Abstract

The Pedder galaxias (Galaxias pedderensis) from Lake Pedder, Tasmania, Australia, is one of the world’s most threatened freshwater fish. The flooding of Lake Pedder in 1972 for hydroelectric power generation caused a major change to the ecosystem that initiated an irreversible decline in the Pedder galaxias within its natural range. The flooding inundated another headwater catchment and native and introduced fish from this catchment colonised the impoundment. Numbers of the Pedder galaxias declined markedly as the impoundment matured and as colonising fish proliferated. Surveys in the 1980s confirmed the parlous state of the population, highlighting the need for conservation intervention. Several urgent conservation actions were undertaken to save the species from extinction. Translocation was considered the most important recovery action, given the critically low numbers in the wild. The species is now extinct from its natural range and is known from only two translocated populations. The conservation program, and specifically the translocation recovery action, saved the Pedder galaxias from extinction. The conservation management was extremely challenging since rapidly declining fish numbers needed timely and critical decisions to underpin the future of the fish. Recommendations are provided arising from this case study to guide conservation of freshwater fish in similar circumstances.

Additional keywords: critically threatened, galaxias conservation, Galaxiidae, habitat alteration, recovery plan, threatened freshwater fish, translocation.


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