Garry Ogston wins award for his honours research

Garry Ogston recently had the opportunity to present the outcomes of his honours research at the joint 2015 Australian Society of Fish Biology (ASFB) Annual Conference and 5th International Symposium on Stock Enhancement and Sea Ranching in Sydney.

In addition to this conference, Garry was invited to present his findings at the ASFB Threatened Species Committee workshop in a bid to get both of the fish he researched recognised as an endangered species.

These opportunities allowed Garry to discuss his findings with researchers outside of WA but also to increase awareness of the importance in monitoring this ecological indicator species.

Garry’s honours research focused on two aestivating fishes, the salamanderfish (Lepidogalaxias salamandroides) and the black-stripe minnow (Galaxiella nigrostriata), both of which are found in south-west Western Australia; an area that has already undergone and is projected to continue to undergo climatic drying. His study aimed to assess the current conservation status of these species and determine the key physicochemical and hydrological variables associated with their distributions to help project future viabilities under hydrological change scenarios (i.e. climate change).

Of the 53 sites surveyed, 39 historically contained L. salamandroides and 28 historically were occupied by G. nigrostriata. Of these only 26 currently contained L. salamandroides and 20 contained G. nigrostriata (66.67% and 71.43% of their respective historical distributions). Both species were absent from the four eastern-most sites sampled which represent significant range retractions for both species (>70% and >50% respectively). Historical sites were predominantly ephemeral, acidic, wetlands of low salinity and shallow (<1m) depth to groundwater. The most important predictor variables for L. salamandroides presence were the length of dry period and depth of pools in winter, with the most important variable for G. nigrostriata being connectivity.

As the predictor variables for both species are strongly influenced by rainfall, it suggests that declining rainfall has been the major driver of the observed declines in range. With global climate models projecting a further decline in rainfall, and a decline in the water table by up to 4m by 2030, further population losses may be expected. The outcomes from Garry’s research will allow for better management strategies to be implemented, as it would be a real shame if both of these enigmatic species were not around for future generations to admire.

In recognition of Garry’s research and presentation at the conference, he was awarded the Junior Gilbert P. Whitley Award. This award is presented to encourage and support high quality presentations by students at the ASFB’s annual conference.

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Galaxiella nigrostriata Lepidogalaxias salamandroides
20141227_180938 salamanda fish reshaped
Lepidogalaxias salamandroides habitat Lepidogalaxias salamandroides

 

Thanks to Dr Brad Pusey and Garry Ogston for use of the photographs

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