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Relationship between flow regime and fish abundances in a gravel‐bed river, New Zealand

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The key elements of the flow regime of the Waipara River on the east coast of New Zealand, that affected fish abundances were the timing of floods and the magnitude and duration of low flows. Generally, fish abundances were highest in early summer, and lowest at the beginning of winter. Spring floods opened the river mouth, allowing recruitment of diadromous fish species, and non‐diadromous fish species spawned after the floods in spring or early summer. Reductions in fish abundances over summer and autumn were consistent with the magnitude and duration of low flows, with significant reductions in the year of lowest flow and little change in abundance in the year when low flows were highest. Variations in fish abundances during periods of low flow were consistent with the amount of instream habitat available, such that abundances of species with high velocity preferences decreased during periods of low flow, whereas abundances of species with low velocity preferences increased.

Keywords: flood; flow regime; habitat; low flow; river mouth closure

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, P. O. Box 11 115, Hamilton, New Zealand and 2: National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, P. O. Box 8602, Christchurch, New Zealand

Publication date: 2005-05-01

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