Are distributions of fishes in tropical estuaries influenced by turbidity over small spatial scales?

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This study found no evidence that turbidity influenced the distribution of fishes in four tropical estuaries in north-eastern Queensland. When both more turbid and less turbid environments were immediately available to Ambassis vachelli and Leiognathus equulus there was no difference in abundance between the more and less turbid environments and no correlated change in abundance as the difference in turbidity increased. A similar outcome was evident for an additional six species of fish. Furthermore, the distribution of fishes was not correlated with the distribution of an important prey species, juvenile banana prawns Penaeus merguiensis, which exhibited a clear response to differences in turbidity level with higher abundance in the more turbid samples, however, the magnitude of the difference did not alter with changes in the magnitude of the differences in turbidity.

Keywords: fish distribution; prawn distribution; tropical estuary; turbidity

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: School of Marine and Tropical Ecology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia 2: Oceanic Fisheries Programme, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia, Postal: SPC, BPD5 - 98848, Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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