Determining patterns of use by black bream Acanthopagrus butcheri (Munro, 1949) of re-established habitat in a south-eastern Australian estuary
Acoustic telemetry was used to assess patterns of utilization by black bream Acanthopagrus butcheri of regions with and without re-introduced large woody debris (LWD) in two estuaries of south-eastern Australia, the Mitchell and Tambo Rivers. The fish (n = 46) were implanted with acoustic transmitters in December 2004 and March 2005 and monitored for c. 12 months. The two principal metrics from the telemetry data, number of visits per day (N day−1) and residency (amount of time, s) were highly correlated (r > 0·948), and subsequent analyses were based on N day−1. Rates of N day−1 varied inconsistently among estuarine regions across diel periods and times of year for each river. In the Tambo River during autumn, winter and spring, the N day−1 was greatest in the middle and upper estuarine regions during the day, and often greater in the lower region at dawn and dusk, but varied little among regions in summer. The provision of LWD had little effect on N day−1 in the Tambo River. In the Mitchell River, N day−1 varied little among estuarine regions without LWD, regardless of the time of day, and these patterns were consistent across seasons, but N day−1 was significantly greater to the LWD during the day in winter and spring. Freshwater flows had little effect on monthly patterns of N day−1 among regions in either estuary. The perceived ‘benefits’ to A. butcheri of re-establishing LWD within estuarine systems of south-eastern Australia depended strongly on the time of year, time of day and river system, but acoustic telemetry was a useful method of evaluating the use by fish of these artificial structures.