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Estuarine environments face regular extremes in temperature, salt levels and turbidity, yet support flourishing aquatic life. How does this dynamic environment affect animal behaviour?
Estuaries are dynamic environments. They are characterised by strong tides and often-heavy fluctuations in salinity, temperature and turbidity. They are also home to diverse assemblages of fish, many of which are prime targets for recreational and commercial fishers.
For this project, we are using a variety of electronic tagging technology to understand the behavioral mechanisms that help fish persist in dynamic estuarine habitats along the New South Wales coastline.
So far we have collected a suite of fascinating data from:
yellowfin bream (Acanthopagrus australis),
mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus),
dusky flathead (Platycephalus fuscus),
sand whiting (Sillago ciliata) and
several stingrays (Dasyatis fluviorum and Trygonoptera testacea).
We have a particular focus on addressing the roles of rainfall and temperature in driving behavior of these animals, and early signs suggest these factors have a big influence on the day-to-day life of estuarine fish. Our hope is that this information will provide a better understanding of how environmental variation contributes to the structuring of estuarine ecosystems.