Rare perch found near Murray River


Tuesday 3 Apr 2018
  • - CSU researchers have found threatened Macquarie perch near Murray River
  • - Research underway for the long term survival and management of the fish
  • - Listen to CSU ecologist, Dr Luiz Silva

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Charles Sturt University (CSU) researchers have found a population of rare Macquarie perch in an isolated creek flowing into the upper Murray River and are now working to conserve and grow the numbers of this threatened species.

Dr Luiz Silva, a freshwater fish ecologist with the CSU Institute for Land, Water and Society, found over 60 individuals of Macquaria australasica (Macquarie perch) in Mannus Creek.

This follows the 2009 finding by former CSU Masters student Mr Luke Pearce and is the only known population on the NSW side of the Murray River catchment.

“We are happy to report that there are more Macquarie perch in this creek than when it was last monitored in 2009. Our team is now focused on determining the extent and sustainability of the current population and types of habitats that these fish need to survive and thrive,” Dr Silva said.

“While this rare fish is reportedly surviving on the Victorian side of the upper Murray in Dartmouth Dam, we are concerned with the declining numbers. This appears due to changed water flows, declining habitats and increased competition and predation by invading fish such as Redfin perch and European carp.

“We are now investigating what habitats Macquarie perch prefer to inhabit in the creek. Do they like snags or runs, riffles or pools? Are there potential breeding habitat for the species? Answers to these questions help us build a better picture of what a creek should look like to save this and other native fish species.

“Building up that knowledge is critical to the development of survival and on-going management techniques to improve creek habitats suitable for Macquarie perch.

“Our team expect to make recommendations to the NSW Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries and Murray Local Land Service for a management plan to help conserve the threatened Macquarie Perch,” Dr Silva concluded.

The project

Researchers: Associate Professor Lee Baumgartner, Dr Luiz Silva, Dr Stacey Kopf, and PhD student Daniel Svozil (all from CSU).

Location: Mannus Creek, near Tumbarumba, NSW.

The study: Fish were sampled using backpack electrofishing, bait traps and fyke nets.

The habitat mapping of Mannus Creek was conducted in November 2017 along 65 kilometres of the creek. Habitats in parts of the creek bed have been digitally mapped in detail to be able to relate fish numbers to habitat type.

The team is now analysing results from the second monitoring event in February, looking to match population numbers with types of habitats and will make recommendations to the Department of Primary Industries.


ends

Media contact: Wes Ward, 0417 125 795

Media Note:

For interviews and pictures with Dr Luiz Silva, who is based in Albury, contact CSU Media.