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Short-term effects of a prolonged blackwater event on aquatic fauna in the Murray River, Australia: considerations for future events

Short-term effects of a prolonged blackwater event on aquatic fauna in the Murray River,... Blackwater contains high levels of dissolved organic carbon that can be rapidly consumed by microbes, sometimes leading to extremely low levels of dissolved oxygen (hypoxia) and drastic consequences for aquatic life, including fish kills. Drought-breaking rains in late 2010 inundated large areas of the Barmah–Millewa Forest, southern Murray–Darling Basin, Australia, and resulted in a prolonged hypoxic blackwater event within the forest and the Murray River downstream. This study investigated the short-term effects of the blackwater event on fish and crayfish. Compared with non-affected sites, blackwater affected sites had: significantly higher abundances of emerged Murray crayfish ( Euastacus armatus ) that were vulnerable to desiccation, predation and exploitation; large numbers of dead or dying shrimp and yabbies; significantly reduced abundances of native fish; but contained similar abundances of alien fish species (particularly common carp, Cyprinus carpio ). The nature of the mechanisms that caused these changes and the longer term significance of the event on the river system remains an important area for future research. We also propose a range of management considerations for reducing the blackwater impacts, such as the timing of environmental water delivery after prolonged drought and the importance of maintaining river–floodplain connectivity during flood periods. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Marine & Freshwater Research CSIRO Publishing

Short-term effects of a prolonged blackwater event on aquatic fauna in the Murray River, Australia: considerations for future events

Marine & Freshwater Research , Volume 63 (7) – Jun 27, 2012

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References (45)

Publisher
CSIRO Publishing
Copyright
CSIRO
ISSN
1323-1650
eISSN
1323-1650
DOI
10.1071/MF11275
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Blackwater contains high levels of dissolved organic carbon that can be rapidly consumed by microbes, sometimes leading to extremely low levels of dissolved oxygen (hypoxia) and drastic consequences for aquatic life, including fish kills. Drought-breaking rains in late 2010 inundated large areas of the Barmah–Millewa Forest, southern Murray–Darling Basin, Australia, and resulted in a prolonged hypoxic blackwater event within the forest and the Murray River downstream. This study investigated the short-term effects of the blackwater event on fish and crayfish. Compared with non-affected sites, blackwater affected sites had: significantly higher abundances of emerged Murray crayfish ( Euastacus armatus ) that were vulnerable to desiccation, predation and exploitation; large numbers of dead or dying shrimp and yabbies; significantly reduced abundances of native fish; but contained similar abundances of alien fish species (particularly common carp, Cyprinus carpio ). The nature of the mechanisms that caused these changes and the longer term significance of the event on the river system remains an important area for future research. We also propose a range of management considerations for reducing the blackwater impacts, such as the timing of environmental water delivery after prolonged drought and the importance of maintaining river–floodplain connectivity during flood periods.

Journal

Marine & Freshwater ResearchCSIRO Publishing

Published: Jun 27, 2012

Keywords: crustaceans, drought, environmental management, environmental water management, fish kills, floodplain, Murray cod, Murray crayfish, river regulation.

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