Fish ecology in the desert

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Adam Kerezsy, a PhD student at Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute and eWater CRC, is investigating the distribution, recruitment and movement of fish across a vast arid area of western Queensland that includes all rivers west of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Image: Adam Kerezsy holds a healthy Yellowbelly from the Diamantina River in far western Queensland.

His work to date has included seven field trips, 35 000 fish samples and about 40 000 km of travel in some of the most remote parts of outback Australia.

His results suggest that quite subtle processes are at work in the arid zone, underlying the accepted ‘boom and bust’ theory of the zone’s ecology. Therefore, he is proposing a new source--sink model to describe the ecology of fish communities that are mostly based in permanent waterholes.

Image: Setting nets at a rarely flooded waterhole in the eastern dunefields of the Simpson Desert. (Photo by: Michael Brigden).

His research has recorded range extensions for up to seven species in the Simpson Desert and also for cryptic (rarely seen) species such as the Golden Goby in the Diamantina River.