Shortjaw kokopu (Galaxias postvectis Clarke) distribution, habitat selection and seasonal activity in the northern Tararua Ranges : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of a Masters of Science in Ecology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Freshwater fish communities were surveyed at 59 sites in the Mangatainoka, Makakahi and Ruamahanga catchments of the northeastern Tararua Ranges during 2000/01. At each site, habitat characteristics were recorded and fish identified by spotlighting over a 100 m reach. Benthic invertebrate samples were also collected from 50 of these sites. Shortjaw kokopu (Galaxias postvectis Clarke) occurred at 16 sites, located in the Mangatainoka and Makakahi catchments only. Ninty-five shortjaw kokopu were caught in total, ranging from juveniles (<90 mm) to adults (>120 mm), with adults comprising approximately 75% of the population. Six other fish species were also recorded. Koaro (G. brevipinnis GÜnther), longfin eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii Gray), Cran's bully (Gobiomorphus basalis Gray), torrentfish (Cheimarrichthys fosteri Haast) and brown trout (Salrmo trutta Linnaeus) all co-occurred with shortjaw kokopu; and a single banded kokopu (G. fasciatus Gray) was found in the Ruamahanga catchment. Discriminant analysis found six habitat factors defined shortjaw kokopu presence. These were low percentages of debris jams, pasture and backwaters; high percentages of shrubs and riffles; and high conductivity. The invertebrate community also proved effective at predicting shortjaw kokopu presence. However, it appears that shortjaw kokopu are limited in distribution by recruitment rather than habitat. Different age classes of shortjaw kokopu were also found to use distinct microhabitats. Sand substrate, pool length, width at the top of the pool, velocity, gradient below the pool, and cobble in the habitat above the pool were found to discriminate between the age class microhabitats. At three sites in the Mangatainoka River, surveys were undertaken monthly, for 16 months. Number of shortjaw kokopu observed was greatly reduced at all three sites during winter and at a maximum in autumn. This showed that shortjaw kokopu exhibited reduced activity rather than seasonal movements within the catchment. Three methods for surveying fish communities were tested on shortjaw kokopu. Gee-minnow traps failed to catch any shortjaw kokopu, but electrofishing and spotlighting both proved effective. While spotlighting caught more shortjaw kokopu at more sites, no significant difference in performance was found between the two methods.