Recruitment of a critically endangered sawfish into a riverine nursery depends on natural flow regimes

Lear, Karissa O., Gleiss, Adrian C., Whitty, Jeff M., Fazeldean, Travis, Albert, J.R., Green, Nathan, Ebner, Brendan C., Thorburn, Dean C., Beatty, Stephen J., and Morgan, David L. (2019) Recruitment of a critically endangered sawfish into a riverine nursery depends on natural flow regimes. Scientific Reports, 9. 17071.

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Abstract

The freshwater sawfish (Pristis pristis) was recently listed as the most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) animal. The Fitzroy River in the remote Kimberley region of north-western Australia represents a significant stronghold for the species, which uses the freshwater reaches of the river as a nursery. There is also mounting pressure to develop the water resources of the region for agriculture that may substantially affect life history dynamics of sawfish in this system. However, the relationship between hydrology and population dynamics of freshwater sawfish was unknown. We used standardized catch data collected over 17 years to determine how wet season volume influences recruitment of freshwater sawfish into their riverine nursery. Negligible recruitment occurred in years with few days of high flood levels (above 98th percentile of cease-to-flow stage height), and relatively high recruitment occurred in years with 14 or more days of high flood levels. This relationship is indicative of a distinct boom-or-bust cycle, whereby freshwater sawfish rely almost entirely on the few years with large wet season floods, and the brief periods of highest water levels within these years, to replenish juvenile populations in the Fitzroy River nursery. This has direct implications for sustainable water resource management for the Fitzroy River basin in order to preserve one of the last known intact nursery habitats for this globally threatened species.

Item ID: 61236
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
Copyright Information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2019 07:46
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060204 Freshwater Ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960913 Water Allocation and Quantification @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960807 Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 34%
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