The future of Australian desert fishes

The fishes of the Australian desert are in remarkably good condition compared to other deserts of the world such as in North America. Australia has been fortunate to avoid two of the greatest threats to aquatic desert ecosystems; changes to flow regimes, and introduced species (Rinne & Minckley 1991). However, there are still major gaps in our knowledge of Central Australian fishes. Little is known of the biology and ecology of most species; usually what is known is based on populations from elsewhere, these may prove to be different species once closely examined. There are many undescribed species. Genetic techniques for sorting out these and other problems are just starting to be applied. There are regular proposals to either dam rivers, or exploit water from the Great Artesian Basin. Tighter restrictions also need to be applied to stocking either native, or translocated angling species; this is presently unregulated. Finally, there are no management strategies or interstate agreements (fisheries are managed at the state level, not federal) in place to deal with any sudden problems that might occur such as an outbreak of an introduced species or any other problem which will occur. We need to be diligent in the future in our efforts to maintain the present status quo.


Rinne, J. N. & Minckley, W. L. 1991. Native fishes in arid lands: A dwindling resource of the desert southwest. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report. RM-206. pp 45.

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The Australian desert fishes pages are compiled and maintained by Peter J. Unmack
Many thanks to Karen Randall for her excellent drawing of a desert goby that is
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This file was last modified:  18 March 2003