David, B.O., Hamer, M.P., Collier, K.J., Lake, M.D., Surrey, G.M., …, Dale, M. (2010). A standardised sampling protocol for robust assessment of reach-scale fish community diversity in wadeable New Zealand streams. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 44(3), 177-187.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4622
The New Zealand fish fauna contains species that are affected not only by river system connectivity, but also by catchment and local-scale changes in landcover, water quality and habitat quality. Consequently, native fish have potential as multi-scale bioindicators of human pressure on stream ecosystems, yet no standardised, repeatable and scientifically defensible methods currently exist for effectively quantifying their abundance or diversity in New Zealand stream reaches. Here we report on the testing of a back-pack electrofishing method, modified from that used by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, on a wide variety of wadeable stream reaches throughout New Zealand. Seventy-three first- to third-order stream reaches were fished with a single pass over 150-345 m length. Time taken to sample a reach using single-pass electrofishing ranged from 1-8 h. Species accumulation curves indicated that, irrespective of location, continuous sampling of 150 stream metres is required to accurately describe reach-scale fish species richness using this approach. Additional species detection beyond 150 m was rare (<10%) with a single additional species detected at only two out of the 17 reaches sampled beyond this distance. A positive relationship was also evident between species detection and area fished, although stream length rather than area appeared to be the better predictor. The method tested provides a standardised and repeatable approach for regional and/or national reporting on the state of New Zealand's freshwater fish communities and trends in richness and abundance over time.
This article has been published in the journal: New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research. © 2010 The Royal Society of New Zealand.