Translocation and spread of piscivorous fishes in the Burdekin River, north-eastern Australia
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The distribution of the biogeographically distinctive fish fauna of the Burdekin River, north-eastern Australia, is largely determined by the presence of a large waterfall located at the lower quarter of the river's length. Downstream of the falls, assemblages are characterised by the presence of piscivorous fishes whereas such species are largely absent from upstream reaches. Sleepy cod (Oxyeleotris lineolatus), a large piscivorous gudgeon, was first introduced into the upper reaches of the Burdekin River in 1980 and other releases, both official and unofficial, have occurred subsequently. The population remained small and restricted to the site of introduction for a decade, but expanded in size and distribution after the occurrence of a large flood and entry into a prolonged period of drought. This gudgeon is now present in every tributary system of the Burdekin Basin. Despite the occurrence of substantial temporal variation in fish abundance due to a highly variable flow regime, negative impacts on one species, a small gudgeon (Mogurnda adspersa), are evident. Both deliberate and accidental releases of other species into the upper Burdekin River have also occurred, often to satisfy recreational fishing demand. Such species are typified by large size and piscivorous habit, characteristics alien and inimical to the native fish fauna. It is hypothesised that these piscivorous species may have even greater impact than O. lineolatus in some tributary systems of the upper Burdekin River.
Copyright 2006 Springer. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. The original publication will be available at www.springerlink.com