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Keywords:

  • restoration;
  • poison;
  • freshwater;
  • before after control impact;
  • recolonisation;
  • salmonid

Abstract

The rehabilitation of native communities by means of eradicating unwanted fish species using piscicides is an example of employing disturbance to achieve conservation successes. Such projects provide a valuable opportunity to test the efficiency of the tool and the impacts on the receiving aquatic communities, as disturbance occurs at a known time. The piscicide ‘rotenone’ has been widely used to eradicate invasive or unwanted fish species worldwide. However, there is little information regarding the impact on native fish being reintroduced to a stream after rotenone treatment. The mass depletion of aquatic invertebrates due to rotenone dosing is of particular concern, as food-limitation could negatively impact on fish growth, condition and recruitment, compromising the aims of rehabilitation. For the first time in New Zealand, rotenone was employed to eradicate brown trout (Salmo trutta) from two streams that also supported populations of banded kokopu (Galaxias fasciatus). Impacts on fish and aquatic invertebrates were studied in two treatment and two reference streams in Karori, Wellington. Analysis showed that invertebrate densities declined significantly in the treatment streams in the 2-week to 2-month period after dosing. Following reintroduction after rotenone treatment, banded kokopu condition declined significantly and levels of fish mobility were variable. One year after rotenone dosing, there was recruitment of banded kokopu juveniles in the treatment streams indicating successful reproduction, with no equivalent increase in the reference streams. Results are a positive indication for the use of rotenone as an effective conservation tool to remove unwanted fish species where they threaten native populations.