Murray-Darling Basin Environmental Water Knowledge and Research Project: Fish theme research report

Amina Price, Stephen Balcombe, Paul Humphries, Alison King, Brenton Zampatti

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report (public)

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Abstract

The distribution and abundance of native fish species within the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) has declined significantly in the last 50–100 years (Koehn & Lintermans 2012; MDBC 2003). As such, restoring native fish populations is now a key goal of several MDB basin-wide environment programs, including The Basin Plan. The Basin-wide Environmental Watering Strategy (BEWS) lists improvements in distribution, abundance,population structure and movement as expected outcomes for fish (MDBC 2003).
However, to appropriately design environmental watering programs to benefit native fish, links between key watering parameters and potential fish responses need to be clearly understood. This requires knowledge of the processes that maintain fish populations, the key drivers of these and their interaction with flows.
The MDB EWKR Fish Theme focussed on fish recruitment and sought to improve our understanding of the key drivers, functional processes and limitations of successful recruitment of native fish. This would lead to an improved capacity to predict fish recruitment outcomes in response to different environmental water parameters.
At the commencement of the EWKR project, there was a good broad-scale conceptual understanding regarding the key drivers of fish recruitment in the MDB. However, our ability to manage environmental flows to enhance fish recruitment was limited by a lack of knowledge regarding:
1. the relative importance of individual drivers
2. the interactions among recruitment drivers, flow and non-flow related stressors and threats; and
3. how these relationships vary among species.
The Fish theme sought to improve our understanding in relation to these limitations and importantly, tried to do so in a scale-explicit context so that water managers can utilise research outcomes and undertake management actions at the most appropriate scales.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWodonga, VIC
PublisherLa Trobe University
Commissioning bodyCommonwealth Environmental Water Office
Number of pages46
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

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