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Influence of environmental variables on the fish fauna of the deeper waters of a large Australian estuary

Loneragan, N.R., Potter, I.C., Lenanton, R.C.J. and Caputi, N. (1987) Influence of environmental variables on the fish fauna of the deeper waters of a large Australian estuary. Marine Biology, 94 (4). pp. 631-641.

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Fish were collected by gill nets from the deeper waters of the Entrance Channel, basins and rivers of the large Peel-Harvey estuarine system (south-western Australia) in the wet (June to November) and dry (December to May) periods between August 1979 and July 1981. Simple-regression analysis showed that the number of species, abundance and biomass of fish in the rivers rose with increases in the salinity and temperature of both the surface and bottom of the water column. No such significant correlations were found in the Entrance Channel andbasins (Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary), where salinity changes were far less marked. The number of species at sites throughout the estuary was inversely correlated with distance from the estuary mouth. Multiple-regression equations showed that, compared with the other environmental variables tested, bottom salinity had a greater influence on the nunber of species and abundance both in the rivers and in the system as a whole. These results indicate that salinity has a greater effect on the fauna in the deeper waters than in the shallows (cf. Loneragan et al., 1986). The larger fish which characterise the deeper waters may thus be less tolerant to low salinities than the smaller fish typically found in the shallows. Both classification and ordination separated the faunal composition of the rivers from those of the Entrance Channel and basins. The fauna of the two narrow and deeper sites in the rivers separated into wet- and dry-period components. Differences between the faunal composition of the riverine regions and those of the Entrance Channel and basins have been related to the much more variable and lower minimum salinities in the rivers. Species characteristic of the rivers included Amniataba caudavittatus, which is estuarine sensu stricto in south-western Australia, the semianadromous Nematalosa vlaminghi and the highly euryhaline Mugil cephalus. The indicator species for the Entrance Channel and basins were all marine species (Cnidoglanis macrocephalus, Hyporhamphus melanochir, Gerres subfasciatus and Pomatomus saltator).

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Copyright: © 1987 Springer-Verlag
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