Fish mediate high food web connectivity in the lower reaches of a tropical floodplain river

Timothy D. Jardine, Bradley J Pusey, Stephen K. Hamilton, Neil E. Pettit, Peter M. Davies, Michael Douglas, Vivian Sinnamon, Ian A. Halliday, Stuart E. Bunn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    High levels of hydrological connectivity during seasonal flooding provide significant opportunities for movements of fish between rivers and their floodplains, estuaries and the sea, possibly mediating food web subsidies among habitats. To determine the degree of utilisation of food sources from different habitats in a tropical river with a short floodplain inundation duration (~2 months), stable isotope ratios in fishes and their available food were measured from three habitats (inundated floodplain, dry season freshwater, coastal marine) in the lower reaches of the Mitchell River, Queensland (Australia). Floodplain food sources constituted the majority of the diet of large-bodied fishes (barramundi Lates calcarifer, catfish Neoarius graeffei) captured on the floodplain in the wet season and for gonadal tissues of a common herbivorous fish (gizzard shad Nematalosa come), the latter suggesting that critical reproductive phases are fuelled by floodplain production. Floodplain food sources also subsidised barramundi from the recreational fishery in adjacent coastal and estuarine areas, and the broader fish community from a freshwater lagoon. These findings highlight the importance of the floodplain in supporting the production of large fishes in spite of the episodic nature and relatively short duration of inundation compared to large river floodplains of humid tropical regions. They also illustrate the high degree of food web connectivity mediated by mobile fish in this system in the absence of human modification, and point to the potential consequences of water resource development that may reduce or eliminate hydrological connectivity between the river and its floodplain.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)829-838
    Number of pages10
    JournalOecologia
    Volume168
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Fingerprint

    floodplains
    food webs
    food web
    connectivity
    floodplain
    rivers
    fish
    river
    Lates calcarifer
    food
    habitat
    habitats
    Dorosoma cepedianum
    duration
    sport fishing
    subsidies
    tropical region
    catfish
    wet season
    water resources

    Cite this

    Jardine, T. D., Pusey, B. J., Hamilton, S. K., Pettit, N. E., Davies, P. M., Douglas, M., ... Bunn, S. E. (2012). Fish mediate high food web connectivity in the lower reaches of a tropical floodplain river. Oecologia, 168(3), 829-838. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-011-2148-0
    Jardine, Timothy D. ; Pusey, Bradley J ; Hamilton, Stephen K. ; Pettit, Neil E. ; Davies, Peter M. ; Douglas, Michael ; Sinnamon, Vivian ; Halliday, Ian A. ; Bunn, Stuart E. / Fish mediate high food web connectivity in the lower reaches of a tropical floodplain river. In: Oecologia. 2012 ; Vol. 168, No. 3. pp. 829-838.
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    abstract = "High levels of hydrological connectivity during seasonal flooding provide significant opportunities for movements of fish between rivers and their floodplains, estuaries and the sea, possibly mediating food web subsidies among habitats. To determine the degree of utilisation of food sources from different habitats in a tropical river with a short floodplain inundation duration (~2 months), stable isotope ratios in fishes and their available food were measured from three habitats (inundated floodplain, dry season freshwater, coastal marine) in the lower reaches of the Mitchell River, Queensland (Australia). Floodplain food sources constituted the majority of the diet of large-bodied fishes (barramundi Lates calcarifer, catfish Neoarius graeffei) captured on the floodplain in the wet season and for gonadal tissues of a common herbivorous fish (gizzard shad Nematalosa come), the latter suggesting that critical reproductive phases are fuelled by floodplain production. Floodplain food sources also subsidised barramundi from the recreational fishery in adjacent coastal and estuarine areas, and the broader fish community from a freshwater lagoon. These findings highlight the importance of the floodplain in supporting the production of large fishes in spite of the episodic nature and relatively short duration of inundation compared to large river floodplains of humid tropical regions. They also illustrate the high degree of food web connectivity mediated by mobile fish in this system in the absence of human modification, and point to the potential consequences of water resource development that may reduce or eliminate hydrological connectivity between the river and its floodplain.",
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    author = "Jardine, {Timothy D.} and Pusey, {Bradley J} and Hamilton, {Stephen K.} and Pettit, {Neil E.} and Davies, {Peter M.} and Michael Douglas and Vivian Sinnamon and Halliday, {Ian A.} and Bunn, {Stuart E.}",
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    Jardine, TD, Pusey, BJ, Hamilton, SK, Pettit, NE, Davies, PM, Douglas, M, Sinnamon, V, Halliday, IA & Bunn, SE 2012, 'Fish mediate high food web connectivity in the lower reaches of a tropical floodplain river', Oecologia, vol. 168, no. 3, pp. 829-838. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-011-2148-0

    Fish mediate high food web connectivity in the lower reaches of a tropical floodplain river. / Jardine, Timothy D.; Pusey, Bradley J; Hamilton, Stephen K. ; Pettit, Neil E.; Davies, Peter M.; Douglas, Michael; Sinnamon, Vivian; Halliday, Ian A. ; Bunn, Stuart E.

    In: Oecologia, Vol. 168, No. 3, 2012, p. 829-838.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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    T1 - Fish mediate high food web connectivity in the lower reaches of a tropical floodplain river

    AU - Jardine, Timothy D.

    AU - Pusey, Bradley J

    AU - Hamilton, Stephen K.

    AU - Pettit, Neil E.

    AU - Davies, Peter M.

    AU - Douglas, Michael

    AU - Sinnamon, Vivian

    AU - Halliday, Ian A.

    AU - Bunn, Stuart E.

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    AB - High levels of hydrological connectivity during seasonal flooding provide significant opportunities for movements of fish between rivers and their floodplains, estuaries and the sea, possibly mediating food web subsidies among habitats. To determine the degree of utilisation of food sources from different habitats in a tropical river with a short floodplain inundation duration (~2 months), stable isotope ratios in fishes and their available food were measured from three habitats (inundated floodplain, dry season freshwater, coastal marine) in the lower reaches of the Mitchell River, Queensland (Australia). Floodplain food sources constituted the majority of the diet of large-bodied fishes (barramundi Lates calcarifer, catfish Neoarius graeffei) captured on the floodplain in the wet season and for gonadal tissues of a common herbivorous fish (gizzard shad Nematalosa come), the latter suggesting that critical reproductive phases are fuelled by floodplain production. Floodplain food sources also subsidised barramundi from the recreational fishery in adjacent coastal and estuarine areas, and the broader fish community from a freshwater lagoon. These findings highlight the importance of the floodplain in supporting the production of large fishes in spite of the episodic nature and relatively short duration of inundation compared to large river floodplains of humid tropical regions. They also illustrate the high degree of food web connectivity mediated by mobile fish in this system in the absence of human modification, and point to the potential consequences of water resource development that may reduce or eliminate hydrological connectivity between the river and its floodplain.

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    Jardine TD, Pusey BJ, Hamilton SK, Pettit NE, Davies PM, Douglas M et al. Fish mediate high food web connectivity in the lower reaches of a tropical floodplain river. Oecologia. 2012;168(3):829-838. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-011-2148-0