Comparison of Day and Night Fyke Netting, Electrofishing and Snorkelling for Monitoring a Population of the Threatened Golden Galaxias (Galaxias auratus)

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The littoral zone of small off-stream water storage containing a translocated population of Galaxias auratus was sampled fortnightly at day and night with fyke nets, electrofishing and snorkelling over 3 months. Variation in population data provided by each method, including relative abundance indices, size structure, and habitat preferences, were examined. Aspects of behaviour and activity patterns were also investigated. Night sampling using all methods consistently yielded larger catches than day sampling. The size structure of catches varied, with electrofishing at night and fyke netting during the day having higher proportions of juveniles, whilst snorkelling at night and electrofishing during the day had higher proportions of adults. Fyke netting at night yielded by far the largest catches (˜3-fold more than other methods) and also captured balanced proportions of juveniles and adults. Galaxias auratus had a strong diel activity pattern and were most active at night. The majority of the population migrated into the littoral zone during the night and back into deeper water during the day. A small number of juveniles remained in the littoral zone and some adults sheltered in the dense cover of species-rich littoral vegetation during the day. Shores with shallow depth profiles appeared to be preferred due to higher catches in these areas using all methods. Based on the results of this study, fyke netting at night in littoral habitats is recommended for monitoring populations of G. auratus. Fyke netting is likely to be an effective method for monitoring other lacustrine galaxiid species; however, further work is required to investigate the effects of habitat variables and fish community structure on activity patterns of galaxiids, and hence their catchability with various methods, in more extensive lentic environments.

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