Oral Presentation Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2017

Good golly it’s a Molly! Did the mining downturn lead to the introduction of Poecilia latipinna to the Pilbara region of Western Australia? (#86)

Dean C Thorburn 1 , James J Keleher 1 , Simon G Longbottom 1
  1. Indo-Pacific Environmental, Mount Hawthorn, Western Australia, Australia

A recent survey of the upper Fortescue River, Western Australia, resulted in the capture of nineteen Poecilia latipinna from a 23 kilometre section of the main channel which represents the first record of an introduced fish species in that system. The variable size and maturity of individuals captured, and the distribution over which they were recorded, strongly suggested P. latipinna was breeding in the river as opposed to being the result of a single release. Based on the limited connectivity at the time of sampling, and that much of the channel downstream of the survey area was dry, the introduction was thought to be relatively recent with dispersal occurring in a downstream direction. The area through which the Fortescue River flows is known for its extensive iron ore reserves. Iron ore is the largest export commodity in Australia with 95% of this production occurring in the Pilbara. In recent years, the price of this commodity has dropped by almost 50%, and the ‘downturn’ had large implications for the regions labour market which saw the loss of over 23000 jobs from the region. This talk will subsequently discuss whether this economic affect indirectly resulted in an environmental effect and whether future changes in demographics and industry in remote regions of Australia may increase the risk of future fauna introductions.