2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, more commonly referred to as the Ramsar Convention. To celebrate this, the World Wetlands Day theme for 2021 is “Wetlands and Water”. Wetlands play a critical role in ecosystem function, maintaining and improving water quality, providing a water supply, providing habitat for threatened fauna species, and supporting climate change adaptation by protecting our coastlines from storm surge, for example.

EMM’s Senior Aquatic Ecologist, Brooke Hay, has led our aquatic ecology team through a busy 2020, surveying waterways and wetlands across New South Wales from the Sydney Basin, Nandewar, South Eastern Highlands to the New England Tablelands bioregions. In keeping with the World Wetlands Day theme of “biodiversity conservation”, we wanted to share information on one particularly interesting threatened aquatic species that we recorded during one of our 2020 aquatic ecology surveys.

The Southern Purple-spotted Gudgeon (Mogurnda adspersa) is listed as Endangered under the NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994 and, during the 1980s, was considered to be extremely rare in inland NSW due to degradation of habitat, cold water pollution, river regulation, and predation by exotic species. The Southern Purple‑spotted Gudgeon generally prefers slow-flowing or still water with a substantial amount of macrophyte coverage or a rocky benthos. The species is known to occur in quite shallow water and needs a very specific temperature range to trigger spawning.

Interestingly, this gravid female was found within a small, very shallow pool, likely to have been fed by a groundwater spring and surrounded by agricultural land. More than 100 individuals were recorded. It is likely that this spring supports this small local population during drought conditions, as no connectivity was observed to an adjacent, flowing river. This suggests that the Southern Purple-spotted Gudgeon may be able to tolerate a wider range of habitat conditions than otherwise thought and confirms the presence of the species within inland NSW, supported by DPI Fisheries monitoring data.

Undertaking aquatic ecology surveys and documenting such species means that we can contribute to knowledge regarding species distribution and habitat characteristics, and ultimately how we can better manage our ecosystems to ensure these species are conserved into the future.


By Brooke Hay,
Senior Aquatic Ecologist

02 9493 9500