Reducing the risk of extinction by establishing refuge populations in farm dams
Southern Pygmy Perch (Nannoperca australis) are a threatened small-bodied (up to 85 mm length) perch-like fish endemic to south-eastern Australia. The species has a southern and northern genetic form, separated by the Great Dividing Range. Once widespread and abundant, the species’ northern form has suffered dramatic declines in distribution and abundance, particularly since the 1980s. At the end of the Millennium drought, only four naturally occurring populations were known to exist in Victoria. These fragmented populations are restricted to the granite-creeks region of the Strathbogie Ranges and the upper Avoca River.
The ‘Fish in Supplementary Habitats (FISH), funded by the Victorian government, was established in 2018 to conserve threatened Southern Pygmy Perch. The project aims to reduce Southern Pygmy Perch’s risk from extinction by translocating fish from existing populations into private farm dams.
The Greta Valley Landcare Group were invited to participate in the program and were asked to select appropriate farm dams from their catchment as refuge sites. Over 20 sites were initially assessed for attributes including fringing, submergent and emergent vegetation, permanency of water supply, restricted stock access and riparian shading. Some selected photos below demonstrate the diversity of dam size and habitat at sites that were nominated as potential refuges by property owners.
Four dams were selected as having the ideal habitat requirements for the Southern Pygmy Perch and fish were translocated into the farm dams in May 2018.
In March 2019, follow up surveys were conducted at sites. This determined that at two of the four dams, Southern Pygmy Perch had survived the translocation and bred successfully! We need to continue follow up surveys and secure funding for additional refuge sites. Stay tuned for project updates!
This project involves strong collaboration across a number of partners and we thank the Arthur Rylah Institute for inviting us to be involved in their project.
This project has been funded through the Biodiversity Onground Action Grants Program managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).