A NSW Government website

Environmental Outcomes Monitoring and Research Program

Water-dependent fauna

Native fish, turtles, frogs, invertebrates, mammals and waterbirds.

Native fish, turtles, frogs,  invertebrates, mammals and waterbirds

Why monitor water-dependent fauna?

Water-dependent fauna such as fish, turtles, frogs, invertebrates, waterbirds and aquatic mammals (e.g., platypus) rely on healthy surface water environments to survive and thrive.

Green frog on fern leaf
Stream breeding frogs such as the Southern Green Stream Frog (Litoria nudidigitus) depend on river flows to maintain their habitat.

River flow is critical to the health of these environments and plays a crucial role during the life of these fauna. For example, some fish respond to rising rivers and use these events to move up and downstream for breeding and to access new habitat. Many stream frogs require flowing water between pools to breed and reach maturity once they complete the tadpole life stage. Aquatic insects are highly susceptible to low flows, and often drive food webs as a key resource for larger fauna.

Turtle hatchling
DPE Water staff with a hatchling Emydura macquarii turtle on the Gwydir floodplain.

It is important that we know how and why water-dependent fauna respond to changes in flow conditions and the outcomes of relevant flow management actions for these animals. This will allow us to make informed management decisions that ensure the health of the animals that rely on water ecosystems.

To help us understand water-dependent fauna response to changes in flow conditions, we are using several techniques such as, population surveys, environmental DNA (eDNA) and acoustic tracking to measure the distribution, movement and population structure of various water-dependent fauna. Our projects include:

  • Monitoring fish populations on the coast of NSW
  • Response of aquatic insects to different flows
  • Tracking the movement of fish and turtles in response to flows
  • Research and monitoring into stream frogs and flows
  • Broadscale fauna (fish, frogs, birds, reptiles, mammals) distribution monitoring in rivers and floodplains