Estimating species richness and catch per unit effort from boat electro-fishing in a lowland river in temperate Australia
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Biodiversity estimates are typically a function of sampling effort and in this regard it is important to develop an understanding of taxon-specific sampling requirements. Northern hemisphere studies have shown that estimates of riverine fish diversity are related to sampling effort, but such studies are lacking in the southern hemisphere.We used a dataset obtained from boat electro-fishing the fish community along an essentially continuous 13-km reach of the Murrumbidgee River, Australia, to investigate sampling effort effects on fish diversity estimates.This represents the first attempt to investigate relationships between sampling effort and the detection of fish species in a large lowland river in Australia. Seven species were recorded. Species-specific patterns in catch per unit effort were evident and are discussed in terms of solitary and gregarious species, recreational fishing and the monitoring of rare and threatened species. There was a requirement to sample substantial lengths of river to describe total species richness of the fish community in this river reach.To this end, randomly allocated sampling effort and use of species richness estimators produced accurate estimates of species richness without the requirement for excessive levels of effort. Twenty operations were required to estimate species richness at this site, highlighting the need for comparable studies of river fish communities in lowland rivers elsewhere in Australia and the southern hemisphere.