Fisheries Research Articles

The status of the black bream Acanthopagrus butcheri (Pisces: Sparidae) population in Lake Clifton, south-western Australia

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia




salinity, fish kill, growth, Sparidae, thrombolite


Aquaculture and Fisheries


Lake Clifton hosts the largest living, non-marine thrombolite (microbialite) reef in the southern hemisphere. The thrombolite reef was recently listed as a critically endangered ecological community. The main threat to the ecology of the lake is increasing salinity, but other threats have also been identified, including the impact of the introduced fish Acanthopagrus butcheri (Munro, 1949). Samples opportunistically collected after a fish kill in 2007 indicated that A. butcheri in this lake experienced very low somatic growth and recruitment failure between 1995 and 2007, probably in response to hypersalinity. The evidence suggests that the A. butcheri population in Lake Clifton is effectively extinct. The proposed conservation strategy for Lake Clifton addresses a range of identified threats, including the eradication of A. butcheri. However, management action in response to this particular threat may no longer be required. The abundance of A. butcheri in the lake is probably very low and the population is likely to become extinct if current environmental trends continue. A dramatic reduction in growth rate after 1995 demonstrates the extraordinary growth plasticity of A. butcheri in response to environmental influences.