Measuring the effect of river rehabilitation for fishes: logistical constraints on experimental design
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Studies of the efficacy of rehabilitation efforts are rarely planned to satisfy concerns about experimental design and statistical examination of field data. The study described in this paper is part of the broader Upper Hunter River Rehabilitation Initiative (UHRRI), and is funded by the Australian Research Council, NSW Department of Primary Industries, and Griffith University. The paper examines the process of making real-world decisions to take advantage of the experimental opportunities offered by the UHRRI project in the context of several constraints. A ten-kilometre stretch of the Hunter River has been chosen for rehabilitation, including the addition of Structural Woody Habitat (SWH). Due to funding limits and logistical issues such as property ownership and riverbank access, the fish rehabilitation project has encountered several design constraints. This project will utilize a 'multiple lines of evidence approach' to strengthen the test of the effectiveness of adding artificial SWH to a river system for fishes. This approach will combine conceptual models and predictions describing the expected responses of each fish species to the SWH in riffles and pools, the collection of quantitative data on fish assemblages and the analysis of the movements of fishes. The aims of the study are to investigate: fish distributions prior to and after introduction of human-made SWH into riffles and pools, the composition of fish assemblages associated with SWH in pools, and the movement patterns of fishes utilising SWH. The UHRRI fish project aims to provide crucial information on issues of experimental design, field techniques and fishes response to SWH to help guide practical river rehabilitation efforts, and at the same time, demonstrate sound scientific practice.
Proceedings of the 4th Australian Stream Management Conference
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