• Macquaria ambigua;
  • larvae;
  • dispersion;
  • floodplain

Golden perch larvae were stocked into a pond and inundated floodplain system in south-eastem Australia to determine movement patterns of the larvae onto and off the floodplain area. A total of 428 larvae were caught moving from the floodplain into the pond whereas only 18 were collected moving in the reverse direction. Thirty one larvae were caught at open water sites in the pond and floodplain, but only three were collected from sites on the floodplain which provided shade, timber or water flow. Transect samples from the pond also yielded more larvae than samples from floodplain transects, indicating a distinct spatial dispersion pattern in favour of the pond.

Spatial dispersion patterns of golden perch larvae appear to correspond with gradients in water quality between the pond and floodplain habitats. Stratification occurred in the pond but did not develop on the floodplain. Water on the floodplain was cooler, harder and contained less oxygen than surface water from the pond. Die1 oscillations occurred in water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide and acidity, but there was no significant corresponding pattern in the distribution of larvae.

Dispersion of golden perch larvae between pond and floodplain habitats is not random, and may be actively influenced by local-scale variations in water quality.