Morgan, D. and Beatty, S. (2006) Fish fauna of the Donnelly River, Western Australia. Murdoch University. Centre for Fish & Fisheries Research, Western Australia.
This report provides an overview of the fishes of the Donnelly River that is based on collections made during June 2006 and from historical data. The Donnelly River, including Lake Jasper, Lake Wilson and Lake Smith, is one of the few catchments in south-western Australia that is inhabited by all of the region’s endemic freshwater fishes. The relative high diversity of freshwater fishes is likely to have been fostered by the diversity of aquatic habitats offered within the catchment. For example, species such as the Salamanderfish and Black-stripe Minnow are restricted to ephemeral pools and floodplain environments and within the Donnelly catchment are confined to the wetlands and pools on Scott Rd and around Lake Smith. Lake Smith is also the only known location within the catchment of the rare Balston’s Pygmy Perch and, together with Lake Wilson is the only known habitat in the catchment with the large Freshwater Cobbler. The Western Minnow, Western Pygmy Perch and Nightfish are relatively common and widespread through the catchment, occurring in most habitat types including the lakes. The rare Mud Minnow is restricted to headwater streams and is very uncommon in the system, possibly as a consequence of predation by exotic species. Three introduced fishes are known from the Donnelly River, the Eastern Mosquitofish, Redfin Perch and Rainbow Trout, the latter being the most widespread, presumably as a consequence of the long term stocking of the species into the catchment. For example, over 500,000 Rainbow Trout were stocked into the system between 1999 and 2004, however there is limited information on the impacts of the species on the ecology of the river. There have been only limited surveys of the estuary of the Donnelly River, and only a small number of species have been recorded there. It is recommended that further seasonal surveys are conducted within the estuary to determine the species composition. The Donnelly River also supports extremely important breeding and nursery grounds for the primitive Pouched Lamprey. Good water quality and habitats (uncleared, high organic content and shade) in some of the major tributaries provide the ammocoetes (larvae) with important nursery areas. The Donnelly River and its catchment is an important refuge for a number of fishes that are unique to Western Australia, while it is also important to many people for recreational purposes and possesses many sites that are of cultural and archaeological importance.
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