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Regional Guidelines for Ecological Assessments of Freshwater Environments - Standardised Fish Monitoring for Wadeable Streams

Report: TR 2010/09
Author: Bruno David, Mark Hamer


Environment Waikato is currently developing a series of protocols to assist those involved in assessment and monitoring of freshwater ecosystems. The fish monitoring protocols for wadeable streams are intended to establish a regionally consistent set of approaches for sample collection, analysis and reporting, and to set a minimum level of effort that workers are required to meet and welcome to exceed. The primary objective of using a standardised fish monitoring protocol is to collect quantitative, repeatable and transparent data that include a representative sample of the majority of fish species in the assemblage.   The methods are designed to be useful for a variety of purposes from regional fish State of the Environment (SOE) monitoring and assessment of environmental effects, to effective evaluation of stream rehabilitation initiatives. These methods are based on USEPA protocols which were tested across a variety of stream types throughout the Waikato region. Slight modifications to these methods and additional development in other areas to suit New Zealand conditions and species assemblages were made. These include: a modified prescriptive backpack electrofishing procedure, and the development of a prescriptive spotlight sampling procedure for nocturnally active native fish species. The longitudinal sampling distance of a reach is set at 150m irrespective of wadeable stream width or procedure used.  This length is based on the likelihood of detecting maximum reach scale diversity informed from testing across a variety of stream types within the Waikato region and elsewhere around New Zealand. A separate but related procedure for standardised processing and recording of catches is also provided. Where appropriate, these protocols may be used across the Waikato region in conjunction with other standardised methods for evaluating other biological (e.g. Macroinvertebrate sampling in wadeable streams - Collier & Kelly 2005) and physical (e.g. Standardised Habitat Assessment Protocols – Harding et al. 2009) elements in wadeable stream environments.

Regional Guidelines for Ecological Assessments of Freshwater Environments - Standarised Fish Monitoring for Wadeable Streams
(508 kb, 72 seconds to download, 56k modem)  

Table of contents

  Acknowledgements i
  Executive summary v
1 Introduction 1
2 Site selection 2
3 Sample collection 3
4 Permits 4
4.1 Backpack electrofishing procedure 4
5 Reporting and data entry 8
6 Fish common names and species code 9
6.1 Concluding remarks 9
7 Literature cited 10
7.1 Gear checklist for freshater fish sampling 11
Appendix 1: Species diversity (how much stream length to sample) graphs 12
Appendix 2: General notes and comments 17
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