Deakin University

File(s) under permanent embargo

Presence of fish on the shallow flooded margins of a small intermittently open estuary in South Eastern Australia under variable flooding regimes

journal contribution
posted on 2008-02-01, 00:00 authored by Alistair Becker, Laurie Laurenson
Shallow water habitats within estuarine systems are believed to be important areas for small fish. While a wide variety of shallow habitats have been studied, the land that becomes inundated by the damming effect after the closure of intermittently open mouths has previously been overlooked. Fish were sampled monthly from both the main channel and flood zone of an intermittently open estuary between July 2004 and June 2005 using minifyke nets during the day and at night. A total of 7,787 fish were collected during the study representing 13 species and 11 families. Philypnodon grandiceps was the most abundant species and, together with Atherinosoma microstoma, Pseudogobius olorum, and Galaxias maculatus, made up 94% of the total catch. Inundation of the flood zone occurred in two discrete forms associated with mouth condition, which consisted of sporadic flooding while the mouth was open, to long-term flooding for 6 months after its closure. Large numbers of fish were captured on the flood zone, which included nine species; however, A. microstoma dominated the catch. A distinct shift in the flood zone fish assemblage occurred between the two mouth conditions, which is likely associated with changes in hydro-period and food availability of the flood zone and physico-chemical parameters in the main channel. There was no longitudinal variation in the fish assemblage in both the main channel and flood zone; similarly, the diel period was found to have little effect on the fish assemblage. The total catch per unit effort did not vary across seasons and suggests that fish abundance within the estuary is stable throughout the year. Unlike other estuarine systems where shallow water fish assemblages may be structured by variations in tide and elevation within the Surrey, freshwater inflow and, more importantly, mouth condition appear to have the greatest influence in composition of the shallow water flood zone fish assemblage of intermittently open estuaries.



Estuaries and coasts






43 - 52


Estuarine Research Federation


Port Republic, Md.








Subscription Required to view full text

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal