Daniel Svozil

Project Trait variation and adaptation of isolated fish populations
Candidate Daniel Phillip Svozil
Contactdsvozil@csu.edu.au
SupervisorsA/Prof. Robyn Watts (Charles Sturt University)
Dr. Richard Keller Kopf (Charles Sturt University)
Dr. Lee Baumgartner (MDFRC/La Trobe University)
Funding body Australian Postgraduate Award through Charles Sturt University.
Duration November 2013 – November 2016

Summary

River habitats, historically free flowing, have been dramatically transformed by the construction of dams, leading to the formation of novel ecosystems; reservoir habitats which have never existed before. Fish populations possess traits and adaptations that allow them to exploit and cope with their environment, however there is little know about how fish populations adapt or evolve in response to novel selective pressures that might be faced in these novel ecosystems. These selective pressures can include altered predation regimes, productivity and flow. Flow velocity in particular has been shown to have significant effects on body shape differences between populations inhabiting flowing river and still-water reservoir habitats. It has therefore been hypothesised to be the strongest selective pressure acting on morphological and functional traits of fish populations.

There is significant lack of knowledge about the effect of flow velocity as a selective pressure which may drive intra-specific variation in not only body shape, but also swimming ability, metabolic efficiency and possibly reproductive traits. Thus the aim of this project is to examine the relative contribution of flow velocity among other selective pressures, to differences in morphological, functional and reproductive traits between populations of Australian smelt (Retropinna semoni) and Eastern mosquito fish (Gambusia holbrooki) from reservoir and river habitats.