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Freshwater flows affect the year-class strength of barramundi Lates calcarifer in the Fitzroy River estuary, Central Queensland

Halliday, I. A., Robins, J. B., Mayer, D. G., Staunton-Smith, J. and Sellin, M. J. (2011) Freshwater flows affect the year-class strength of barramundi Lates calcarifer in the Fitzroy River estuary, Central Queensland. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland, 116 . pp. 1-11. ISSN 0080469X (ISSN)

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The age-structure of the commercial catch of barramundi in the Fitzroy River estuary, central Queensland, was examined over fi ve consecutive years and used to estimate year-class strength (= index of recruitment). Barramundi year-class strength fl uctuated and was signifi cantly and positively correlated with freshwater flow and coastal rainfall in spring and summer. General linear models were used to identify relationships between year-class strength and freshwater variables, and explained between 85 and 90% of the variation in barramundi year-class strength. The results provide further evidence that recruitment variation in barramundi: (i) persists over time; and (ii) is signifi cantly correlated with the volume to freshwater flowing into the estuary. We reviewed the evidence in support of the three causal mechanisms currently proposed to explain the relationship between year-class strength and juvenile barramundi recruitment; and propose an additional mechanism, that of enhanced growth rates and thus increased survival of young-of-the-year. Freshwater flow is an important driver of barramundi recruitment, and reduction in flow, through water abstraction or climate change, will potentially reduce barramundi stock size available for human harvest. As such, fi shery stock assessments for barramundi should explicitly consider the impacts of variable flow on annual recruitment and stock dynamics.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Environmental flows Fish recruitment Otoliths Lates calcarifer
Subjects:Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery conservation
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery for individual species
Deposited On:27 Mar 2019 23:52
Last Modified:27 Mar 2019 23:52

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