Matthew Burnett

Matthew Burnett


Matthew Burnett

PhD Student

Behavioural ecology research on the KwaZulu-Natal Yellowfish (Labeobarbus natalensis).




Yellowfish, Labeobarbus spp. are a relatively under recognised species in Southern Africa. Their presence in every river system in South Africa makes them the perfect candidates to measure river health. They are an iconic and charismatic fish in being sort after by recreational anglers and fishermen for food. Despite this value they have there is little information available in understanding their behavioural and ecological position. Their sensitivity to flows and other water quality variables could not be more helpful than today where anthropogenic influences on our rivers are higher than ever before.

More specifically the KwaZulu-Natal, or Scaly, Yellowfish (Labeobarbus natalensis), an abundant fish in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), has received recent attention to assist in the development of a real-time remote monitoring system. This system serves in understanding the behavioural characteristics of Natal Yellowfish and its responses to water quality and quantity variables altered by natural and anthropogenic causes. With the recent developments in telemetry tags and water quality probes is making this possible. The multi-disciplinary approach to this is cutting edge concept may change the future in how we manage our natural resources.

In developing the technologies, Aquatic Ecosystem Research (AER) in its aquarium is running a tag retention study to improve on the knowledge on attaching tags to fish. Little information exist for tagging of fish within tropical and sub-tropical systems as most studies happen within cooler temperate areas.

I am also involved in two other projects at AER namely: (1). The River and Estuary Management Program (REMP), which serves to monitor River Health on a provincial level throughout KwaZulu-Natal. (2). The South African Swimway Program, which is looking at restoring river connectivity for fish within South Africa and globally.

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