A comparison of temperature regimes in dry-season waterholes in the Flinders and Gilbert catchments in northern Australia

Wallace, Jim, Waltham, Nathan, and Burrows, Damien (2017) A comparison of temperature regimes in dry-season waterholes in the Flinders and Gilbert catchments in northern Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research, 68 (4). pp. 650-667.

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Dry-season waterholes in ephemeral rivers provide vital habitat for aquatic biota, whose survival is dependent on the waterholes lasting throughout the dry season with temperatures that are not lethal. To examine this in the Flinders and Gilbert Rivers, 20-min temperature measurements were taken during the 2012–2013 dry season in 10 waterholes in each catchment. These data were used to derive thermal-frequency curves that quantify how often waterhole temperature exceeds thresholds for (1) the optimum growth of tropical fish and (2) their lethal temperature. Waterholes that remained deeper than ,0.5 m throughout the dry season provided thermally suitable fish refugia, especially if they were turbid, because this decreased the risk of exposure to undesirable temperatures at the bottom of the waterhole. However, surface temperatures in these waterholes often exceeded optimal and even potentially lethal temperatures, so fish may have had to move to cooler water at the bottom of these waterholes. The risk to aquatic species in waterhole refugia is, therefore, primarily determined by depth, with shallow waterholes presenting the greatest risk because they become thermally unsuitable well before (1–2 months) they fully dry out.

Item ID: 47034
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-6059
Keywords: fish refugia, turbidity, thresholds
Funders: Office of Northern Australia, Northern Australia Sustainable Futures, CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country Flagship, TropWATER
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2017 04:18
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 30%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310304 Freshwater ecology @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960604 Environmental Management Systems @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 40%
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