Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Big Floods = Big Barras


Study co-author Ian Halliday catches a barramundi, a popular species for anglers in rivers such as the Daly River in the Northern Territory.

By Tim Jardine, Brad Pusey and Ian Halliday

More barramundi survive to adulthood during big flood years due to increased feeding opportunities.

Tim Jardine and Brad Pusey are Research Fellows at the Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University. Ian Halliday is a biologist with the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Floods can be devastating natural forces that wreak havoc on just about anyone and anything living in low-lying areas. We often see images of homes, other property and human lives tragically destroyed by floods.

Yet for all this devastation and destruction, surely there must be some benefit? After all, floods have come and gone on this continent for millions of years, and the plants and animals that we see today are the product of this flood–drought cycle.

This is especially true in the wet–dry tropics, an area stretching from Broome in Western Australia across to the tip of Cape York in Queensland, which contains many vast floodplain rivers. Do these river systems benefit from annual floods that turn a parched landscape into an aquatic utopia just about every Christmas?

One animal that does very well in rivers that flood is the barramundi (Lates calcarifer), an Australian icon that has great commercial, recreational and cultural value. Keen anglers flock from southern locations for a chance to hook this fish, and it features prominently on the plate of fish-and-chip lovers. There is no better place to find it than the lower reaches of a large floodplain river like the Mitchell River in north Queensland or the Daly River in the Northern Territory.

For a long time it has been known that floods and barramundi ecology and production are intimately...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.