Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Characteristics of the ichthyofauna of a temperate microtidal estuary with a reverse salinity gradient, including inter-decadal comparisons

Veale, L., Tweedley, J.R.ORCID: 0000-0002-2749-1060, Clarke, K.R., Hallett, C.S.ORCID: 0000-0002-8844-3388 and Potter, I.C. (2014) Characteristics of the ichthyofauna of a temperate microtidal estuary with a reverse salinity gradient, including inter-decadal comparisons. Journal of Fish Biology, 85 (5). pp. 1320-1354.

PDF - Authors' Version
Download (1MB)
Link to Published Version:
*Subscription may be required


Data on the fish fauna of the Leschenault Estuary on the lower west coast of Australia were collected and used as a model to elucidate the characteristics of permanently open estuaries with a reverse salinity gradient, which undergo seasonal changes similar to many other estuaries with Mediterranean climate. Focus was placed on determining (1) the relationships of the number of species, density, life cycle category and species composition of fishes with region (within estuary), season and year and salinity, (2) whether species are partitioned along the lengths of such systems and (3) the extent and significance of any inter-decadal changes in species composition. The analyses and interpretation involved using multi-factorial permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA) and analysis of similarity (ANOSIM) designs, and three new or recently published visualization tools, i.e. modified non-metric multidimensional scaling (nMDS) plots, coherent species curves and segmented bubble plots. The base, lower, upper and apex regions of the Leschenault Estuary, along which the salinity increased in each season except in winter when most rainfall occurs, were sampled seasonally for the 2 years between winter 2008 and autumn 2010. Estuarine residents contributed twice as many individuals, but less than half the number of species as marine taxa. While the numbers of marine species and estuarine residents declined between the base or lower and apex regions, the individuals of marine species dominated the catches in the base region and estuarine residents in the other three regions. Ichthyofaunal composition in each region underwent conspicuous annual cyclical changes, due to time-staggered differences in recruitment among species, and changed sequentially along the estuary, both paralleling salinity trends. Different groups of species characterized the fauna in the different regions and seasons, thereby partitioning resources among species. The ichthyofauna of the apex region, in which salinities reached 54 and temperatures 36° C, recorded the highest maximum density and, in terms of abundance, was dominated (90%) by three atherinid species, emphasizing the ability of this family to tolerate extreme conditions. Comparisons between the data for 2008-2010 and 1994 demonstrate that the spotted hardyhead Craterocephalus mugiloides and the common hardyhead Atherinomorus vaigiensis had colonized and become abundant in the Leschenault Estuary in the intervening period. This represents a southwards extension of the distribution of these essentially tropical species during a period of increasing coastal water temperatures as a result of climate change. The abundance of weed-associated species, e.g. the western gobbleguts Ostorhinchus rueppellii and the soldier Gymnapistes marmoratus, increased, whereas that of the longfinned goby Favonigobius lateralis decreased, probably reflecting increases in eutrophication and siltation, respectively.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc
Copyright: © 2014 The Fisheries Society of the British Isle
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year