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The distribution of macroinvertebrates and fishes in Tasmanian estuaries


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Barrett, NS, Edgar, GJ and Last, PR 1999 , 'The distribution of macroinvertebrates and fishes in Tasmanian estuaries' , Journal of Biogeography, vol. 26, no. 6 , pp. 1169-1189 , doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2699.1999.00365.x.

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The distributions of 390 taxa of benthic macroinvertebrates collected in forty-eight estuaries
and 101 fish species collected in seventy-five Tasmanian estuaries were related to geographical
and environmental variables. Distribution patterns for the two taxonomic groups were
largely congruent at both between- and within-estuary scales. Faunal composition and the
number of species collected at a site were primarily related to site salinity, the biomass of
seagrass and tidal range. At the broader estuary scale, the distributions of macroinvertebrate
and fish assemblages were primarily correlated with the presence of an entrance bar.
Species richness varied with geographical location for both macrofauna and fishes, with
highest numbers of species occurring in the Furneaux Group, north-eastern Tasmania and
south-eastern Tasmania. These patterns primarily reflected differences in estuary type
between regions rather than concentrations of locally endemic species. Although the majority
of species collected during the study were marine vagrants, they constituted a very low
proportion of total animal densities within estuaries. Only four species considered exotic
to Tasmania were identifed.
Nearly all species recorded from Tasmanian estuaries occurred widely within the state
and have also been recorded in south-eastern Australia. Only 1% of estuarine fish species
and < 5% of invertebrate species were considered endemic to the state. The generally wide
ranges of species around Tasmania were complicated by (i) the absence of most species
from the west coast (ii) a small (< 10%) component of species that occurred only in the
north-east and Furneaux Group (eastern Bass Strait), and (iii) a few species (< 5%) restricted
to other regions.
The low number of species recorded from estuaries along the western Tasmanian coast
reflected extremely low faunal biomass in that area. This depression in biomass on the
west coast was attributed to unusually low concentrations of dissolved nutrients in rivers
and dark tannin-stained waters which greatly restricted algal photosynthesis and primary

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Barrett, NS and Edgar, GJ and Last, PR
Keywords: Estuaries, biogeography, macrofauna, fish, salinity, seagrass, Tasmania
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Biogeography
DOI / ID Number: 10.1046/j.1365-2699.1999.00365.x
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