Wet season flood magnitude drives resilience to dry season drought of a euryhaline elasmobranch in a dry-land river

Karissa O. Lear, David L. Morgan, Jeff M. Whitty, Stephen J. Beatty, Adrian C. Gleiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The increase in severity and occurrence of drought from environmental change poses a significant threat to freshwater ecosystems. However, many of the mechanisms by which periodic drought affects aquatic animals are poorly understood. Here we integrated physical, physiological, and behavioural measurements made in the field over a twelve-year period to provide a comprehensive understanding of the factors affecting the loss of body condition of fish in arid rivers, using the Critically Endangered freshwater sawfish (Pristis pristis) in the dryland Fitzroy River, Western Australia, as a model species. Sawfish lost condition throughout the long dry season in all years and had significantly poorer body condition throughout years characterized by low volumes of wet season flooding and little occurrence of overbank flooding. A mechanistic examination of factors leading to this loss of condition using measurements of body temperature, field energetics, and habitat use from telemetry techniques showed that the loss of condition throughout the season was likely due to substantial habitat compression and low productivity in drier years, while high rates of competition were more likely to drive this pattern in wetter years. This information can be used to forecast how climate change and water abstraction will affect aquatic fauna experiencing intermittent drought and can inform management decisions to help mitigate these threats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number142234
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume750
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Nyikina-Mangala Rangers have provided extensive support and assistance with fieldwork over many years. We also gratefully acknowledge fieldwork volunteers including T. Fazeldean, M. Aitken, L. Fraser Buckle, L. Marshall, J. Watson, M. Marshall, B. Marshall, R. Watson, C. Watson, K. Watson, N. Watson, J. Albert, D. Giles, H. Wallace-Smith, J. Mansfield, D. Keynes, M. Allen, J. Keleher, E. Byrnes, S. Visser, J. Duncan, C. Morgan, R. Morgan, N. Morgan, J. Wade, A. Rowland, H. Gill, Z. Hogan, T. Campbell, H. Ashe, G. Teasdale, E. Dobinson, B. Norman, T. Ryan and many others, and support of our Kimberley field base from J. and G. Kelly. This project was funded by many sources including Chevron Wheatstone Project , Murdoch University Strategic Research Fund , the Australian Research Council (project 150100321 ), Forrest Research Foundation , Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment , Fisheries Society of the British Isles , Australia Pacific Science Foundation , Waitt Foundation , Graduate Women Western Australia , Seaworld Research and Rescue Foundation , Western Australia Department of Water and Environmental Regulation , Western Australian Government's State Natural Resource Management Program , and the Shark Conservation Fund . K. Lear was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship and the Forrest Research Foundation. All work with animals was conducted under permits granted by Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Murdoch University's Animal Ethics Committee (permit #RW2662 and #RW2757).

Funding Information:
The Nyikina-Mangala Rangers have provided extensive support and assistance with fieldwork over many years. We also gratefully acknowledge fieldwork volunteers including T. Fazeldean, M. Aitken, L. Fraser Buckle, L. Marshall, J. Watson, M. Marshall, B. Marshall, R. Watson, C. Watson, K. Watson, N. Watson, J. Albert, D. Giles, H. Wallace-Smith, J. Mansfield, D. Keynes, M. Allen, J. Keleher, E. Byrnes, S. Visser, J. Duncan, C. Morgan, R. Morgan, N. Morgan, J. Wade, A. Rowland, H. Gill, Z. Hogan, T. Campbell, H. Ashe, G. Teasdale, E. Dobinson, B. Norman, T. Ryan and many others, and support of our Kimberley field base from J. and G. Kelly. This project was funded by many sources including Chevron Wheatstone Project, Murdoch University Strategic Research Fund, the Australian Research Council (project 150100321), Forrest Research Foundation, Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment, Fisheries Society of the British Isles, Australia Pacific Science Foundation, Waitt Foundation, Graduate Women Western Australia, Seaworld Research and Rescue Foundation, Western Australia Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Western Australian Government's State Natural Resource Management Program, and the Shark Conservation Fund. K. Lear was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship and the Forrest Research Foundation. All work with animals was conducted under permits granted by Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Murdoch University's Animal Ethics Committee (permit #RW2662 and #RW2757).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Body condition
  • Environmental change
  • Kimberley
  • Metabolic rate
  • Pristis pristis
  • Sawfish
  • Temperature

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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