Unlocking barriers to fish passage and improving river connectivity

Fish need to move to find food, escape predators and reach suitable habitat for reproduction. Too often, however, human activities get in the way. Dams, weirs and culverts (the tunnels and drains often found under roads) can create barriers that fragment habitats, isolating fish populations and often resulting in population declines. In the Murray-Darling Basin, native fish are estimated to have declined to just 10 per cent of pre-European levels.

Researchers working in UQ’s innovative Biohydrodynamics Laboratory, in collaboration with scientists and managers from NSW DPI Fisheries and Roads and Maritime Services NSW, are developing improved understanding of the swimming abilities of threatened native freshwater fish. 

A comprehensive biological database is being combined with waterway hydrodynamic modelling, resulting in tools and strategies to ameliorate the impacts of anthropogenic structures on native fish passage and improving river connectivity.