The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) researchers are using video to assess the effectiveness of putting habitat for native fish back into rivers across Victoria.
Department of Environment and Primary Industries
ARI fish ecologist Jarod Lyon said: 'In recent years Catchment Management Authorities have been putting snags back into our waterways to assist our threatened native fish species including the iconic Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii).'
'We know that instream woody habitat is important for a range of native fish species but we want to assess how they are being used by the different species so we can provide better guidance to river managers on maintaining snags,' Mr Lyon said.
'We are using underwater GoPro cameras to film fish species such as Murray Cod, Trout Cod (Maccullochella macquariensis), and Yellowbelly when they are at the snags so we can learn more about their behavior and their needs.'
'We know these big native fish species often hide, feed and breed around submerged logs, and the loss of this habitat through past management practices including the removal of snags has contributed to them becoming threatened right across their range.'
'However, details such as how much wood is required, what types of streams and which fish communities use the snags still require further investigation.'
'Some of the videos we have taken so far include close-ups of the fish swimming as well as a young prey fish swimming out of the mouth of a big Murray Cod after they had been held in a live-well waiting to be measured, weighed and tagged. Two of the videos can be viewed here
'We are also assessing the health of the native fish population at the sites we are visiting to add to our knowledge about the role played by snags in maintaining or enhancing fish numbers, particularly for large bodied fish like the Murray Cod and Trout Cod.'
'Our native fish play a significant role in maintaining healthy ecosystems in our rivers and creeks so this work will increase our knowledge of these fish as well as contributing to a healthier waterway.'
The Victorian Government has a responsibility under the Wildlife Act 1975 and the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 to protect threatened species. These animals and plants contribute significantly to the biodiversity of their ecosystems. The knowledge we acquire about these species helps us to then take the on-ground steps needed to ensure their survival.