Aquatic Ecology Projects

Aquatic investigations in the Isaac River, Queensland

Article by David Phillips (Aquatic Ecologist)

As part of a large development project The Aquatic Ecology team in Queensland were busy in February (2015) undertaking monitoring of the fish, macroinvertebrate and turtle communities in the Isaac River sub-catchment of the Fitzroy Basin, Queensland. 

For most of the year the majority of rain that falls on the catchment flows beneath the surface of the porous sandy river beds, and only after sufficient heavy rains and once the Hyporheic Zone reaches saturation, does the water-table rise sufficiently for surface flows to be prevalent. 

The dynamic nature of the system (i.e. surface flows are often short lived), and the unusually late start to the wet season, presented several challenges for the survey team with respect to the timing of the monitoring.  However, after sufficient rain in the catchment survey personnel were able to mobilise quickly to commence wet season baseline surveys.

One of the most abundant species we detected was the Spangled Perch Leiopotherapon unicolor.  This very common species is able to withstand an enormously wide range of temperatures, salinities and pH levels. It is often found in very high numbers in isolated pools shortly after rain, suggesting it is able to aestivate (lay dormant in damp soil or leaf litter during dry periods).  Spangled Perch have also been observed swimming across roads after rainfall (image from The Moray's Lair).  Their dominance in such dynamic, highly ephemeral systems as the Isaac River is testament to evolutionary adaptations for these environments.

For further information on the Isaac River Project, or if you have any specific requirements to undertake aquatic investigations as part of a preliminary project assessment and approval (EIS), or post approval monitoring and compliance please contact one of our consultants on (07) 3221 3352 or

David Phillips, Aquatic Ecologist surveying in Isaac River, Queensland

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