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Habitat preferences and habitat restoration options for small bodied and juvenile fish in the northern Murray-Darling Basin

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Hutchison, M., Norris, A. and Nixon, D. (2020) Habitat preferences and habitat restoration options for small bodied and juvenile fish in the northern Murray-Darling Basin. Ecological Management and Restoration, 21 (1). pp. 51-57.

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/emr.12394


Degradation of instream habitats in the northern Murray–Darling Basin has occurred through numerous stressors, including siltation, clearing of bankside vegetation, intrusion of livestock and impacts of pest species. A better understanding of habitat preferences of native fish species could help guide future instream habitat restoration actions. The habitat choices of seven native fish species, juvenile Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii), juvenile Golden Perch (Macquaria ambigua ambigua), juvenile Silver Perch (Bidyanus bidyanus), adult Murray–Darling Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia fluviatilis), adult Olive Perchlet (Ambassis agassizii), adult Un‐specked Hardyhead (Craterocephalus stercusmuscarum fulvus) and adult carp gudgeons (Hypseleotris spp.) were tested in preference troughs to help inform potential habitat restoration actions in the Condamine catchment. Each species was given a choice between pair combinations of open sandy habitat, submerged macrophytes, emergent plants and rocky rubble. Habitat preferences varied between species. Murray Cod, Golden Perch, carp gudgeons and Olive Perchlets preferred structure over open sandy habitat, whilst juvenile Silver Perch, Un‐specked Hardyhead and Murray–Darling Rainbowfish did not avoid open sandy habitats. Juvenile Murray Cod preferred rocky rubble habitat over all other habitat choices. Use of complex rock piles to provide nursery habitat for Murray Cod populations is a potential restoration option. Introduction of rock could also benefit Golden Perch and carp gudgeons. Use of emergent plants, submerged macrophytes and rocky rubble for habitat restoration all appear to have merit for one or more species of small‐bodied fishes or juvenile stages of larger sized fishes. Rocky rubble or floating attached macrophytes could be viable restoration options in areas too turbid to establish submerged macrophytes. These habitat interventions would complement existing actions such as re‐snagging and provision of fish passage to assist with sustainable management of native fish populations.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:aquatic habitat restoration; fish habitat preference; juvenile Golden Perch; juvenile Murray Cod; macrophyte rock
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery conservation
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery management. Fishery policy
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery research
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery for individual species
Live Archive:05 Feb 2020 23:35
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:45

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