Size, growth and mortality of riverine golden perch (Macquaria ambigua) across a latitudinal gradient
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Effective fisheries management requires fish size, growth and mortality information representative of the population and location of interest. Golden perch Macquaria ambigua is long lived, potamodromous and widespread in the Murray–Darling Basin (MDB), Australia. Using a sample spanning 13 river systems and 10° of latitude, we examined whether the maximum size of golden perch differed by latitude and whether growth and mortality varied between northern and southern MDB regions. The length, weight and age ranges of golden perch sampled (n = 873) were 52–559 mm, 2–3201 g and 0+ to 26+ years respectively, and maximum length and weight were unaffected by latitude. Length and age–length distributions represented by age–length keys varied by region, with greater variability in age-at-length and a larger proportion of smaller individuals in northern MDB rivers, which generally exhibit greater variability in discharge. Growth and mortality rates were similar between regions, and an MDB-wide von Bertalanffy growth model (L∞ = 447, k = 0.32 and t0 = –0.51) and instantaneous mortality rate (Z = 0.20) best described the data. An MDB-wide length–weight equation also provided the best fit (W = 6.76 × 10–6 L3.12). Our data suggest that the MDB can be treated as one management unit in terms of golden perch maximum size, growth and mortality parameters.