Effects of a low-head weir on multi-scaled movement and behavior of three riverine fish species Academic Article uri icon


  • Despite providing considerable benefits to society, dams and weirs threaten riverine ecosystems by disrupting movement and migration of aquatic animals and degrading riverine habitats. Whilst the ecological impacts of large dams are well studied, the ecological effects of low-head weirs that are periodically drowned out by high flows are less well-understood. Here we examine the effects of a low-head weir on fine- and broad-scale movements, habitat use, and breeding behaviour of three species of native freshwater fish in the Nymboida River in coastal eastern Australia. Acoustic telemetry revealed that eastern freshwater cod (Maccullochella ikei) and eel-tailed catfish (Tandanus tandanus) made few large-scale movements, but Australian bass (Percalates novemaculeata) upstream of the weir were significantly more mobile than those below the weir. Within the weir pool, all three species displayed distinctive patterns in fine-scale movement behaviour that were likely related the deeper lentic environment created by the weir. No individuals of any species crossed the weir during the study period. Tandanus tandanus nesting behaviour varied greatly above and below the weir, where individuals in the more lentic upstream environment nested in potentially sub-optimal habitats. Our results demonstrate the potential effects of low-head weirs on movement and behaviour of freshwater fishes.


  • Carpenter-Bundhoo, L
  • Butler, GL
  • Bond, Nick
  • Bunn, SE
  • Reinfelds, IV
  • Kennard, MJ

publication date

  • 2020