Connecting fish, flows and habitats on lowland river floodplains

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ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst

International Conference on Engineering and Ecohydrology for Fish Passage

International Conference on River Connectivity (Fish Passage 2018)

Dec 13th, 3:40 PM - 5:00 PM

Connecting fish, flows and habitats on lowland

river floodplains

Paul Brown

School of Biological Sciences, La Trobe University, Mildura, VIC, Australia

David Wood

School of Biological Sciences, La Trobe University, Mildura, VIC, Australia

Iain Ellis

Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales Fisheries, Buronga, NSW, Australia

Andrew Greenfield

Mallee Catchment Management Authority, Mildura, VIC, Australia

Warwick Gillespie

University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia

See next page for additional authors

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Brown, Paul; Wood, David; Ellis, Iain; Greenfield, Andrew; Gillespie, Warwick; and Healy, Sascha, "Connecting fish, flows and habitats on lowland river floodplains" (2018).International Conference on Engineering and Ecohydrology for Fish Passage. 2.

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La Trobe University CRICOS Provider Code Number 00115M

Connecting fish, flows and habitats

on lowland river floodplains

Paul Brown 1, David Wood 1, Iain Ellis 2, Andrew Greenfield 3 , Warwick Gillespie 4, Sascha Healy 5

1. School of Biological Sciences, La Trobe University, Mildura, VIC, Australia

2. Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales Fisheries, Buronga, NSW, Australia 3. Mallee Catchment Management Authority, Mildura, VIC, Australia

4. University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia

5. New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, Buronga, NSW, Australia

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Acknowledgements:

All current and past employees of The Murray–Darling Freshwater Research Centre who contributed to the DAAMMP. Particularly Rick Stoffels and Braeden Lampard.

Kyne Krusic-Goleb and Annique Harris of Fish Aging Services.

The community of the lower Darling and Darling Anabranch land holders.

NSW Office of Heritage and Environment (Paula DSantos, Paul Childs and Nathan McGrath)

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Slide 3 | Version 2

 Great Darling Anabranch – connects the Menindee Lakes (Lake Cawndilla) to the River Murray via an alternate pathway to the Darling River.

 Chalka Creek – connects the River Murray to a series of floodplain lakes and wetland habitats known as the Hattah Lakes.

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Slide 5 | Version 2

 To investigate if the Great Darling Anabranch is a significant corridor for passage of important native fish species (e.g. Golden perch that recruit to Lake Cawndilla (Menindee Lakes).

 To determine if the Great Darling Anabranch contributes significantly to regional instream productivity, during times of flow.

 To determine if the Great Darling Anabranch is a hotspot of native fish processes with consequences for regional population dynamics.

 How does re-connecting passage between rivers and floodplain lakes stimulate lake-resident fish movement for native species such as Golden perch?

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Great Darling Anabranch – connects the

Menindee Lakes (Lake Cawndilla) to the River Murray via an alternate pathway to the Darling River.

 Almost 500 km of (ephemeral) river channel restored by removal of several low-head dams.

 By summer 2016–17 it had been dry for three years.

 Menindee Lakes system filled 2015–16

 Release down the lower Darling started in July 2016 & peaked January 2017.

 Releases down the Great Darling Anabranch started in February 2017

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Slide 7 | Version 2

Flows

0 500 1000 1500 2000

May-16 Nov-16 Jun-17 Dec-17 Jul-18

Dis ch ar ge ra te (Ml/da y) date

Great Darling Anabranch

Upper GDA, Packers Crossing Upper GDA, Wycott

lower GDA, Bulpunga 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000

May-16 Nov-16 Jun-17 Dec-17 Jul-18

Dis ch ar ge ra te (Ml/da y) Date

Lower Darling River

Darling, Weir 32 Darling, Burtundy

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Downstream fish passage into the

Great Darling Anabranch

Species

Mean downstream

dispersal rate

(fish 24h

-1

)

Estimated fish passage

13/2/2017–23/6/2017

Bony bream

517

50,145

Golden perch

177

30,753

Spangled perch

33

1360

Common carp

16

1617

Goldfish

0.9

109

Total

83,984

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Slide 9 | Version 2 0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 Cumu lat iv e (d o w n stream) f is h p ass age es timate Date Downstream Common carp Bony herring Golden perch Spangled perch 0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 Cumu lat iv e (u p stream) f is h p ass age es timate Date Upstream Common carp Bony herring Golden perch Spangled perch Goldfish

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• Whole stream metabolism 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000 4500 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

24-Feb 6-Mar 16-Mar 26-Mar 5-Apr 15-Apr 25-Apr 5-May

M L/ d mg/O2/ l and Te mpe ra tu re ( o C ) Date

Darling Anabranch Mid

Darling River Mid

Darling Anbranch flows (Wycott)

Darling River flows (Weir 32)

Gross primary production estimated daily (mean ±

SD) for comparable

sites on the

Darling Anabranch (Mid)

and

Darling River (Mid).

Logged

River temperature (dashed lines) and flow rate (solid lines) from the

Productivity

Pulse

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Slide 12 | Version 2

• Contribution to the Murray R.

0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 15/04/2017 25/04/2017 5/05/2017 15/05/2017 25/05/2017 4/06/2017 14/06/2017 24/06/2017 4/07/2017 Dis ch ar ge (ML/d ) m g/O2/l Date

Murray upstream of Darling Anabranch

Murray downstream of Darling Anabranch

Tarra Downs flow

Gross primary production estimated daily (mean

±

SD) for comparable sites on

the River Murray upstream and downstream of the Darling Anabranch

confluence. Gauged flow rate (solid lines) from the nearest gauge upstream,

are shown for the Darling Anabranch.

Productivity

Pulse

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0.19 0.21 0.23 0.25 0.27 0.29

Darling Anabranch Darling River

Fu lto n 's con d itio n f act o r (k) Source

• Fish body condition

• Golden perch • Bony bream 0.15 0.16 0.17 0.18 0.19 0.2 0.21 0.22 0.23

Darling Anabranch Murray river Darling River

Fu lto n 's con d itio n fact o r Source

Mean (±

SD) condition factor (Fulton’s k)

for Golden perch from the Darling

anabranch (

n

= 54) and the Darling River

(

n

= 35)

Mean (±

SD) condition factor (Fulton’s k) for

Bony herring from the Darling Anabranch (

n

=

76), River Murray (

n

= 26) and Darling River (

n

= 43)

One-way ANOVA, K-Golden perch SS DF

Between Rivers 0.005 1

Within River 0.025 87

F 17.141

P 0.000080 **** One-way ANOVA, K-Bony herring SS DF

Between Rivers 0.018 2 Within River 0.048 142 F 27.402 P 8.6307E-11 ****

Productivity

Pulse

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Slide 14 | Version 2

• Fish growth in length

• Golden perch –Rapid!

• Bony bream –Rapid!

Golden perch ~spawned in October 2016,

5 months old

(Sharpe and Stuart, 2018)

~9 months old

Productivity

Pulse

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Repeated-measures, linear mixed-effects model

Increment width

~

River

*

DOC

+ (

CaptureL

|

SampleID

)

Sum Sq Mean Sq DF(numerator) DF(denominator) F Pr(>F) Sig.

River 3.6186 1.8093 2 56.144 14.799 6.88E-06 *** DOC 2.404 2.404 1 84.846 19.664 2.75E-05 ***

Re-scaled date-of-capture (DOC)

• Fish daily otolith growth rates • Anabranch > Darling> Murray

Productivity

Pulse

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Slide 16 | Version 2

• Fish daily otolith growth rates • Golden perch

• Darling > Anabranch

Re-scaled date-of-capture (DOC)

Repeated-measures, linear mixed-effects model

Increment width

~

River

*

DOC

+ (

CaptureL

|

SampleID

)

Sum Sq Mean Sq DF(numerator) DF(denominator) F Pr(>F) Sig. River 1.4752 1.4752 1 85.994 13.92 0.000342 *** DOC 8.172 8.172 1 87.354 77.11 1.22E-13 ***

Productivity

Pulse

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Hattah Lakes environmental watering 2017–2018:

How did flows stimulate Golden perch movement?

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Slide 18 | Version 2

Hattah Lakes environmental watering 2017

2018:

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Hattah Lakes environmental watering 2017

2018:

How did in-flows stimulate Golden perch movement?

 Resident fish fauna sampled during pumped inflows at four sites using

‘directional’ netting

 During inflows, 91% (n=58) of Golden perch sampled were

moving ‘upstream’ from the Lakes towards the pumps

(and the Murray River).

 Five of 27 tagged-GP detected (18.5%), showed directional movement during pumped-inflows (4 downstream and 1 upstream). Remainder showed inconclusive directional-movement or no-movement.

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Slide 20 | Version 2

Hattah Lakes environmental watering 2017

2018:

How did out-flows stimulate Golden perch movement?

 Acoustic tagging & telemetry used to monitor movements of 34 Golden perch during inflows and outflows

 Five of 16 GP detected (31%) showed directional

movement downstream during regulated outflows (all five exited to the Murray River). Remainder showed no directional movement.

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How do we continue to learn and adapt?

• How can we maximise fish survival during the ‘migration’

down the GDA?

• How does productivity in the GDA compare with the Darling, in terms of output into the Murray?

• When does fish body-condition indicate quality of the

environment and antecedent conditions? How can it be used as a proxy for production in native fish species such as

Golden perch.

• Connections facilitate ‘bet-hedging’ strategies for partial

migrators, using flow-management; spreading the risk for populations and selfish-genes – we probably shouldn’t

expect 100% fish movement off (or onto) the floodplain

• Need to learn more about the trade-offs for native fish, for

‘staying’ or ‘going’, when managing flows in ephemeral

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Slide 22 | Version 2

Summary & Recommendations

• Great Darling Anabranch WAS a significant corridor for important native fish species (e.g. Golden perch and Bony bream that

recruited to Lake Cawndilla.

• Great Darling Anabranch DID contribute significantly to regional instream productivity, at least doubling the primary production in the Murray River as the pulse dispersed.

As a hotspot of native fish processes the flows in the Great Darling Anabranch produced conditions resulting in rapid growth in two species of native fish. However the effects of a productivity pulse on growth trajectories, varied by species.

The Hattah Lakes environmental watering CAN be managed to facilitate good fish-outcomes, for the river population of Golden perch.

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Benefits of connecting rivers and

floodplain habitats

Increased productivity

• Primary productivity

• Whole stream metabolism ? –In this ephemeral stream channel the pulse of productivity is predictable

• Secondary productivity

• Fish growth (Bigger-faster ?) Species specific. Fish at lower trophic levels benefit first?

• Improved survival –If growth ?

• ‘Bet-hedging’ for partial migrators facilitated

, spreading the risk for populations and selfish-genes

• Was the scale of migration ecologically and socially significant? –a portion of Lake Cawndilla and Hattah

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Slide 25 | Version 2

Thank you for listening from

Fisheries and Wetlands Consulting

Principal Consultant: Paul Brown

Providing natural resource managers with accurate, timely, and relevant

information to manage freshwater fish, other aquatic fauna and their

habitats.

@fisheriesandwetlands

www.fisheriesandwetlands.com.au

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