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Climate change and its implications for Australia's freshwater fish


Morrongiello, JR and Beatty, SJ and Bennett, JC and Crook, DA and Ikedife, DNEN and Kennard, MJ and Kerezsy, A and Lintermans, M and McNeil, DG and Pusey, BJ and Rayner, T, Climate change and its implications for Australia's freshwater fish, Marine and Freshwater Research, 62, (9) pp. 1082-1098. ISSN 1323-1650 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 CSIRO

DOI: doi:10.1071/MF10308


Freshwater environments and their fishes are particularly vulnerable to climate change because the persistence and quality of aquatic habitat depend heavily on climatic and hydrologic regimes. In Australia, projections indicate that the rate and magnitude of climate change will vary across the continent. We review the likely effects of these changes on Australian freshwater fishes across geographic regions encompassing a diversity of habitats and climatic variability. Commonalities in the predicted implications of climate change on fish included habitat loss and fragmentation, surpassing of physiological tolerances and spread of alien species. Existing anthropogenic stressors in more developed regions are likely to compound these impacts because of the already reduced resilience of fish assemblages. Many Australian freshwater fish species are adapted to variable or unpredictable flow conditions and, in some cases, this evolutionary history may confer resistance or resilience to the impacts of climate change. However, the rate and magnitude of projected change will outpace the adaptive capacities of many species. Climate change therefore seriously threatens the persistence of many of Australia’s freshwater fish species, especially of those with limited ranges or specific habitat requirements, or of those that are already occurring close to physiological tolerance limits. Human responses to climate change should be proactive and focus on maintaining population resilience through the protection of habitat, mitigation of current anthropogenic stressors, adequate planning and provisioning of environmental flows and the consideration of more interventionist options such as managed translocations.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:arid zone, drought, environmental flows, freshwater fish, life history, local adaptation, refugia, threatened species
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Freshwater ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Ecosystem adaptation to climate change
UTAS Author:Bennett, JC (Mr James Bennett)
ID Code:77991
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:122
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2012-06-12
Last Modified:2012-11-22

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