MDFRC supports a team of fish ecologists who work in collaboration with multidisciplinary teams to deliver high quality scientific research and synthesis in fish ecology and biology.
The group's interests include:
- Community ecology of freshwater fishes
- Ecology of native and alien species
- Experimental fish ecology, utilising multiple approaches from microcosms to whole system manipulations
- Monitoring of fish population and community responses to management interventions and certain ad hoc management needs
- Ecophysiology and trophic ecology of fishes
- Life-history ecology
- Ecological modelling and statistics
- Investigations into fish habitat requirements and availability
- Threatened species management
- Mentoring the next generation of fish ecologists through undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and postgraduate project supervision.
Examples of specific projects:
- Conservation of Murray hardyhead Craterocephalus fluviatilis in Victoria: status of population monitoring, translocation and captive breeding programs (2010).
- Assessment of fish movement to and from Margooya Lagoon upon re-connection to the Murray River (2010).
- Combined effects of temperature, dissolved oxygen and food shortage on the growth and productivity of Purple-spotted gudgeons during drought (2009-2010).
During this study, physiological experiments will be conducted and the data will be used in a computer model that catchment managers will then use to forecast the effect water extraction will have on purple-spotted gudgeons during drought.
- The Effects of the Decommissioning of Lake Mokoan on Fish Community Structure in the Broken River (2008-2010).
This study will address questions in relation to differences in fish communities and fish condition in clear (upstream of Casey's Weir) and turbid (downstream of Casey's Weir) river reaches, the effect of the decommissioning of Lake Mokoan on fish communities, and the effect of Casey's Weir on large-bodied fish movement within the Broken River.
- Optimising Environmental Watering Protocols to Benefit Native Fish Populations project (2007-2011).
The Optimising Environmental Watering Protocols to Benefit Native Fish Populations project, aims to provide critical information to water managers on how to make best use of environmental water to sustain native fish populations. The response of fish communities to inundation events in wetlands associated with the Murray River will be evaluated.
- Lachlan Fish Spawning and Recruitment (stage two of an earlier project: Fish Spawning and Recruitment) (2009-2011).
This research represents the second component of a three year project aimed at investigating the distribution and long-term viability and sustainability of native fish populations in the Lachlan River.
- The impact of drought on water quality and fish communities within refuge pools of the lower Darling River. (2007-2008). This project monitored water quality conditions during a prolonged period of zero flow and contraction of the lower Darling River to a series of isolated pools, providing valuable information to guide management of return to flow requirements in drought-stressed rivers to avoid large-scale fish-kills result of acute water quality impacts.
- Fish-habitat relationships in the lower Darling River (2009-2010). The utilisation of particular habitat features (snag abundance, complexity, orientation, depth) by Murray cod, golden perch, bony herring and carp was determined by comparing individual species habitat preferences to habitat availible. These results may guide the management and restoration of particular habitat attributes preferred by fish species
- Status of Tandanus tandanus (freshwater catfish) populations in the Gunbower Creek (2009-2010). The interaction between habitat characteristics (water quality, snags, submerged and riparian vegetation) and fish assemblage structure upon catfish populations was examined, identifying factors potentially affecting catfish populations to enable effective management of remnant populations.
Facilities and particular skills:
- Extensive range of state of the art equipment and expertise for fish surveys
- Fish ageing using otoliths: daily and annual age determination and growth modelling
- Reproductive physiology
- The ecology of early ontogeny (the study of larval fishes)
- Habitat surveys utilising high-definition sonar
- Mesocosm experiment facilities
- Controlled environment facilities for experimentation
- Captive breeding facilities
Rick Stoffels; email@example.com
Iain Ellis; firstname.lastname@example.org
Publications and reports
Ebner, B.C., Scholz, O., Gawne, B. (2009) Golden Perch Macquaria ambigua are flexible spawners in the Darling River, Australia. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43(2): 571-578.
Humphries, P. (2005). Spawning time and early life history of Murray cod, Maccullochella peelii (Mitchell) in an Australian river. Environmental Biology of Fishes 72(4): 393-407.
Humphries, P., King, A.J. and Koehn, J.D. (1999). Fish, flows and flood plains: links between freshwater fish and their environment in the Murray-Darling River system, Australia. Environmental Biology of Fishes 56(1-2): 129-151.
King, A.J. (2005). Ontogenetic dietary shifts of fishes in an Australian floodplain river. Marine and Freshwater Research 56(2): 215-225.
McCarthy, B., Conallin, A., D'Santos, P. and Baldwin, D. (2006) Acidification, salinisation and fish kills at an inland wetland in south-eastern Australia following partial drying. Ecological Management & Restoration 7(3): 218-223.
Smith, B.B., Conallin, A., Vilizzi, L. (2009) Regional patterns in the distribution, diversity and relative abundance of wetland fishes of the River Murray, South Australia. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 133: 339-360
Stoffels, R.J. and Humphries, P. (2003). Ontogenetic variation in the diurnal food and habitat associations of an endemic and an exotic fish in floodplain ponds: consequences for niche partitioning. Environmental Biology of Fishes 66: 293-305.
Vilizzi, L., Meredith, S., Sharpe, C. and Rehwinkel, R. (2008). Evaluating light trap efficiency by application of mesh to prevent inter- and intra-specific in situ predation on fish larvae and juveniles. Fisheries Research 93(1-2): 146-153.
Whiterod, N.R. and Walker, K.F. (2006). Will rising salinity in the Murray-Darling Basin affect common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.)? Marine and Freshwater Research 57(8): 817-823.
Rehwinkel, R. and Sharpe, C. (2009). Gunbower Forest Fish Monitoring Surveys Progress Report. Report prepared for North Central Catchment Management Authority, January, 14pp.
Sharpe C, Bindokas J, Rehwinkel R and Fraser P (2009) Fish-Habitat Relationships in the Lower Darling River. Final Report prepared for the Lower Murray Darling Catchment Management Authority by The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, October, 34pp.
Sharpe, C. and Ellis, I. (2008). Assessment of snag-habitat and fish community relationships in the Pomona Priority Habitat Reach, Lower Darling River. Progress Report to the Lower Murray Darling CMA and NSW Department of Primary Industries, May, 6pp.
Sharpe C, Wallace T, Fraser P and Vilizzi L (2009) The impact of drought on the distribution of fish communities in the Mullaroo-Creek - Lindsay River complex. Final Report prepared for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority by The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, June, 47pp.
An interim listing of MDFRC Publications List 1986 - August 2011 can be downloaded.