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Red-finned blue-eye (Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 162513191

Protecting the critically endangered red-finned blue-eye from invasive pest fish using barrier fencing.

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 162513191) - Red-finned blue-eye - Awarded $16,550 on October 17, 2016

The Red-finned Blue-eye (RFBE) is a critically endangered fish species, found only within the Great Artesian Basin springs at Edgbaston Reserve in central Queensland, Australia. Edgbaston Reserve is an 8,200 hectare (20,263 acre) former sheep and cattle station, which was purchased by the conservation organisation Bush Heritage Australia in 2008 and is now managed as a reserve predominantly to protect the endemic spring biota. There are approximately one hundred natural springs (ranging in size from 1 to 6000m2) at Edgbaston, fed by water from the Great Artesian Basin, the largest and deepest artesian basin in the world. The Edgbaston springs are the most ecologically-diverse ‘super-group’ of springs in the entire basin, containing a host of endemic fish, plants and invertebrates. The RFBE is one such endemic, found only in a handful of springs on Edgbaston Reserves and nowhere else in the world.

The greatest threat to the long term survival of the RFBE in the wild at Edgbaston is the presence of the introduced mosquito-fish, Gambusia holbrooki. RFBE are unable to co-exist with the predatory Gambusia and have disappeared from Gambusia colonized springs. Bush Heritage’s management actions have increased the number of springs occupied by RFBE to seven since 2008; however only one natural population remains, and the species is still perilously close to extinction. Gambusia spread through the Edgbaston springs during local flooding events that connect the shallow springs. As total eradication of Gambusia from Edgbaston is not achievable with current knowledge and technology, preventing movement of Gambusia from water holes to springs and between springs is a key strategy to ensure the survival of the RFBE. With the funding from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Bush Heritage will strategically fence a number of high priority springs with a newly developed, custom made barrier material that will restrict Gambusia from invading and colonising springs during flooding events.

The project objectives are to:

• Fence RFBE springs to prevent Gambusia colonisation
• Fence Gambusia colonised springs to restrict them from dispersing overland and invading other springs
• Rehabilitate fenced springs (via the manual removal of Gambusia) to create threat-free habitat for reintroduction of the RFBE

Project 162513191 location - Australia, Oceania