Fish behaviour is a good indicator of river health since any changes in the ecosystem they live in will affect their survivability and will be reflected as changes in their behaviour. Changes to the ecosystems include the availability of habitats, altered flows, a decline in water quality, food availability and the direct health of fish. By evaluating the behavioural response of fish to changing environmental variables, we can evaluate the ecological consequences these changes have on the ecosystem. Biotelemetry will be used to monitor the home range, habitat use and movement response of tagged large scale yellowfish (Labeobarbus marequensis)to environmental drivers in the Olifants River. Characterising the behaviour of fish is important and contributes greatly to the management of river systems they occur in.
Client and/or collaborating stakeholders: Water Research Commission, WADER Programme, SANPARKS.
Interesting and important outcomes/prospects: Behavioural studies of freshwater fish have contributed to gain an understanding of how fish adapt to optimise the utilisation of the ecosystem resources, successfully recruit, and survive natural and anthropogenic changes in ecosystem conditions. Variables such as migration behaviour, habitat selection, territoriality behaviour, foraging and diet, anti-predator tactics, reproduction, and the response of species to changing environmental conditions, can be evaluated during a behavioural study. This information will contribute to understanding the biology and ecology of Labeobarbus marequensis species and will assist in the conservation and management of this species and their aquatic ecosystem.
For more information contact: BurnettM@ukzn.ac.za