Conservation of the endangered red-finned blue-eye, Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis, and control of alien eastern gambusia, Gambusia holbrooki, in a spring wetland complex

The red-finned blue-eye is the only pseudomugilid fish known from inland Australia and it is found only within an isolated cluster of Great Artesian Basin springs on Edgbaston Reserve in central-western Queensland. Surveys conducted in early 2009 revealed that red-finned blue-eye was present in four individual springs and that invasion of the spring complex by alien eastern gambusia was the most likely factor contributing to local extirpations. A three-year project commenced in the same year, with the twin aims of investigating methods for removing gambusia from springs and relocating small populations of red-finned blue-eye to fish-free springs. Gambusia removal with rotenone has been successful in a trial spring at Edgbaston and aquatic invertebrates have not been adversely affected. From a total of seven relocation events conducted in the same period, red-finned blue-eye populations have persisted in three. The results indicate that gambusia removal and red-finned blue-eye relocation are both suitable methods for red-finned blue-eye conservation, and as the fish is both endangered and declining, these methods and other strategies such as captive breeding should be implemented to prevent species extinction.