The fish fauna of a seasonally closed Australian estuary. Is the prevalence of estuarine-spawning species high?
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The fish at sites located throughout the large, seasonally closed Wilson Inlet, on the southern coast of Western Australia, were sampled bimonthly between September 1987 and April 1989. Seine nets were used to sample nearshore shallow waters, while gill nets were employed in slightly more offshore and deeper waters. Twenty species were recorded in the shallows, of which the three species of atherinid and the three species of goby comprised >97% of the total catch. In terms of number of individuals, the 27 species recorded in gill nets in the deeper waters were dominated by Cnidoglanis macrocephalus and Platycephalus speculator, and to a lesser extent Engraulis australis, Aldrichetta forsteri, Sillaginodes punctata and Arripis georgianus. Fifty-five percent of the species recorded in the nearshore shallow waters and 18% of those in offshore deeper waters spawn within Wilson Inlet; these species contributed 98.5 and 63.0%, respectively, to the total catches in those waters. Classification and ordination showed that the composition of the fauna in the shallows was similar at all sites throughout the large basin and did not change conspicuously with season. However, the composition of catches taken in offshore waters differed between the lower part of the basin and the middle and upper regions of the basin, which in turn differed from those in the saline reaches of a tributary river. The four diagnostic species of the lower estuary were all marine species, while the three diagnostic species in the river included a marine species (Mugil cephalus) that often penetrates far upstream in other systems, and a species which was confined to the rivers (Acanthopagrus butcheri). The composition of the fish fauna in the offshore waters of the lower estuary between the middle of spring and middle of autumn was different in 1987/1988 (when the estuary mouth was open for only the first two months of that period) from that in 1988/1989 (when the mouth was open for the whole of that period). This difference is related to the greater number of marine species that were retained in the first of these years, when the estuary was open to the ocean for only a short period. The greater retention of marine species in 1987/1988 than in 1988/1989 probably reflects a far lower level of freshwater flusing and/or a less marked decline in salinity.
|Publication Type:||Journal Article|
|Murdoch Affiliation:||School of Biological and Environmental Sciences|
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