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Altering river flow impacts estuarine species and catches: lessons from giant mud crabs

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Blamey, L. K., Plagányi, É. E., Robins, J. B., Kenyon, R., Deng, R. A., Hughes, J. and Kim, S. (2023) Altering river flow impacts estuarine species and catches: lessons from giant mud crabs. ICES Journal of Marine Science . ISSN 1054-3139


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsad144


Anthropogenic alterations to river flow could have repercussions for flow-dependent species downstream but few studies account for these dynamic relationships or quantify impacts of altered river flow. Scylla serrata—a widely distributed portunid crab—was used as an example of a flow-dependent species to model impacts of altered flow on species abundance and catch. Crab population dynamics were modelled across a large semi-enclosed tropical sea in northern Australia. Environmental drivers, primarily river flow, but also temperature and the Southern Oscillation Index were linked to crab dynamics to explain variability in historical catches. Catch and abundance could then be predicted under altered flow scenarios. River flow significantly improved the ability to explain historical catches for some regions but not all, and the strength of this relationship varied across catchments. Altered flows had negligible effects for perennial rivers but for ephemeral and temporally variable rivers, predicted decreases in abundance and catch ranged from 36 to 46% on average. Our modelling approach showcases a way to dynamically and rigorously quantify impacts of altered river flow on a key species with potential to help inform natural resource management, including policy decisions on the timing, quantity, and method of water removed from rivers.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:crustacean, environmental driver, estuarine, fishery, freshwater flow, Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia, Portunidae, river development, water allocation.
Subjects: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:24 Oct 2023 23:36
Last Modified:24 Oct 2023 23:37

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