Estuarine fishes of the South Alligator River, Kakadu National Park, northern Australia

Pusey, Bradley J., Kennard, Mark J., Larson, Helen K., Alsop, Quentin, Hammer, Michael, and Buckle, Duncan J. (2016) Estuarine fishes of the South Alligator River, Kakadu National Park, northern Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research, 67 (12). pp. 1797-1812.

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Estuaries are recognised globally as areas of high production, diversity and high economic value. Exploitation of the economic potential of estuaries and attendant infrastructural development plus expansion of human populations has resulted in degradation of estuaries worldwide. Many estuaries of northern Australia, in contrast, remain in good ecological condition. The estuarine fish fauna of the South Alligator River, Kakadu region of northern Australia was investigated to determine seasonal and spatial variation in composition. Beam trawls were used at 94 locations over the wet and dry seasons of 2012. In total, 81 taxa were collected, 26 of which had not previously been recorded in the river. Sciaenidae and Engraulidae dominated species richness and abundance. Samples were heterogeneous in terms of composition and abundance in a manner unrelated to any measured aspect of the habitat over which trawls occurred. Species richness was higher in the lower estuary than the upper estuary and more species were detected during the wet season. Turnover in assemblage structure between sampling occasions was associated with seasonal variation in discharge concordant with changes in salinity and potentially productivity. Compositional variation was largely ascribed to differential spawning phenology of adults and tolerance to fluctuating salinity. The Kakadu region supports a rich fish fauna moderately distinct from that observed elsewhere in the Northern Territory. Pronounced temporal turnover in assemblage structure and spatial variation at a variety of scales (i.e. within samples, and within and between rivers) collectively pose a challenge to management in light of ongoing and proposed development of the water resources of northern Australia, including its estuaries.

Item ID: 47095
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-6059
Keywords: assemblage structure, estuarine fishes, productivity, salinity
Funders: National Environmental Research Program Northern Australia Hub
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2017 07:40
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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