Karltek Pty ltd, $25,000
Dr Xiaodi Huang, Dr Lee Baumgartner and Dr Jan Li
Protection of biodiversity and ecosystem processes is a priority for natural resource management in Australia. The construction of dams & weirs in Australian rivers has led to a dramatic decline in native fish populations and aquatic biodiversity generally by reducing opportunities for fish to complete important spawning and re-colonising migrations.
In 2001, the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (now Murray-Darling Basin Authority) initiated a program to improve fish passage to over 2000 km of the Murray River, from the sea to Hume Dam, by constructing 14 new fishways. A monitoring and assessment program was established to determine if the reinstatement of passage was providing benefits to fish communities in the Murray-Darling Basin.
A key component of the monitoring program was the installation of a ‘state-of-the-art’ PIT (passive integrated transponder) monitoring system. The system required the installation of antennas within each completed fishway and presently tracks the movements of over 40,000 PIT-tagged fish in the southern connected basin. The system became fully operational in February 2012 and has been logging fish movements along the river ever since. A cloud-based database, FishNet, receives data from each of the tracking stations every minute. The database has been constructed with a number of in-built queries that can summarise fish movements on a range of spatial and temporal scales. This provides the opportunity to examine fish movements in relation to any number of environmental variables in order to examine causal relationships.
For this project the researchers are conducting a two-stage modelling process (characterisation model then predictive model) to identify the best combination of variables that predicted the ascent of fish at any given site.
Image indicates the sites associated with the project. Map supplied by Karltec Pty ltd.
By analysing the existing fish movement data and the relationships between fish movement and river operations, the researchers aim to help predict fish responses and improve management into the future
Dr Xiaodi Huang Email