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Predicting hydraulic structure-induced barotrauma in Australian fish species

Brett D. Pflugrath, Craig A. Boys, Bruce Cathers
Marine & freshwater research 2018 v.69 no.12 pp. 1954-1961
Maccullochella peelii peelii, Macquaria novemaculeata, carp, dams (hydrology), dose response, fish communities, infrastructure, models, mortality, perch, prediction, regression analysis, rivers, weirs
When fish pass downstream through river infrastructure, such as dams and weirs, barotrauma may occur as a result of rapid decompression. In severe cases, barotrauma may lead to mortality. Different species are likely to respond differently to these decompressions. Therefore, to predict barotrauma for a specific species, surrogate species may not be a valid approach, and it may be necessary to examine each species individually. For the present study, Australian bass and carp gudgeon were exposed to a range of rapid decompressions using hyper- and hypobaric hydro-chambers and examined for injuries and mortality. Rapid decompression data from these two fish species, in addition to previously examined Murray cod and silver perch, were evaluated to determine which injuries were highly associated with and likely to predict mortality. Dose–response logistic regression models were developed for each species to predict injury and mortality over a range of rapid decompressions. These models are valuable for estimating injury and mortality rates for fish passing though river infrastructure and can be applied to specific sites where pressure profiles have been developed. Applying these models to current and future infrastructure can provide important insight into what measures or design alterations may be necessary to reduce negative effects of infrastructure on fish populations.