Original Articles

INFLUENCE OF FRESHWATER FLOW REGIME ON FISH ASSEMBLAGES IN THE GREAT FISH RIVER AND ESTUARY

DOI: 10.1080/10183469.1996.9631372
Author(s): L.D. Ter Morshuizen, South Africa, A.K. Whitfield, South Africa, A.W. Paterson, South Africa

Abstract

Two and a half years of data were collected from the lower Great Fish River, head region and estuary to determine the fish species composition within these areas. Gilchristella aestuaria, Liza dumerilii, Rhabdosargus holubi and Pomadasys commersonnii were the four most abundant species captured, with riverine flow rate having an important effect on both species composition and numbers of fishes in the different regions. Most marine species displayed a strong inverse relationship between catch per unit effort and elevated freshwater inputs. Euryhaline marine species dominated the catches at all sampling sites during low flows but were less common during high flow periods when catadromous species were most abundant. Based on the available evidence it is suggested that for most marine species in the river this decline in abundance is related to low conductivity levels following floods rather than avoidance of elevated flows. The impact of elevated suspensoid concentrations and lowered dissolved oxygen concentrations on freshwater and estuarine fish populations during major river flooding is also discussed.

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