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African Journal of Marine Science

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Fish response to the annual flooding regime in the Kavango River along the Angola/Namibia border

CH Hocutt, PN Johnson

Abstract


The results of the first seasonal survey of the fish of the Kavango River floodplain along the Angola/Namibia border are reported. The river experiences peak flooding from February through June, with the 375-km long floodplain extending up to 5 km across. The floodplain was sampled five times in 1992 by seine, fish traps and rotenone. The data indicated a pronounced structural and functional response of the fish community in relation to the alternating flood and drought conditions in the river. Catch per unit effort and diversity were highest during months of peak flooding (May and June), and lowest during the month of least flow (November). The reproductive strategies of K-selected piscivorous cichlids and tigerfish were in advance of flooding. Many r-selected invertivores, especially cyprinids, were in relative synchrony with flooding and the stimulation of littoral zone plant growth, while other invertivores lagged the cyprinids. Herbivores had lowest relative abundance during peak flooding; this seemingly inverse relationship with the invertivores should not be interpreted as replacement, but rather the swamping of the system with young-of-the-year r-selected invertivores. The data support the Flood Pulse Concept, which hypothesizes that flooding is the major “driver” of productivity in lowland or floodplain rivers.

Keywords: behaviour, floodplain fishery, migration, Okavango Delta, r-/K-selection, subsistence fishery

African Journal of Marine Science 2001, 23: 449–464



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