Larval fish are sensitive to environmental changes, with many oceanographic processes influencing their distribution, abundance and survival. Most fish species have eggs and larvae that are easily sampled with plankton nets in the upper layers of the ocean making them easy to sample with existing sampling methods. The easy of capture and their sensitivity to oceanographic processes make larval fish useful and important indicators of change.
Larval Fish sampling occurs at 5 National Reference Stations (North Stradbroke, Port Hacking, Maria Island, Kangaroo Island and Rottnest Island), adding to the biological, ecological and oceanic measurements already sampled at these long-term monitoring sites around Australia. Monthly sampling of larval fish with vertical net tows at each National Reference Station allows for seasonal trends in larval fish communities to be detected. Continued and ongoing sampling of larval fish communities at these sites will not only establish much needed long-term monitoring in Australian coastal waters, but also assess the impacts of warming temperatures, disease outbreaks, ocean acidification, and deoxygenation on fish communities.
Prof Iain Suthers