The flow regime of Cooper Creek, central Australia, is subject to a summer-monsoonal climate and aseasonal cycles associated with the El Niñ o–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Analysis of a 48-year hydrograph indicates that floods tend to occur in clusters associated with La Niñ a episodes. The influence of ENSO is apparent in lagged correlations between discharge and values of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), and in measures of coherency derived from cross-spectrum analysis. Hydrological persistence is indicated by partial auto-correlations between floods in successive years. In a cluster of five floods over 1987–1991, cumulative effects were apparent in wetland habitat areas, in water temperature and transparency, and in the recruitment patterns of five fish species: Nematalosa erebi (Clupeidae), Hypseleotris klunzingeri (Gobiidae), Melanotaenia splendida tatei (Melanotaeniidae), Retropinna semoni (Retropin-nidae) and Gambusia holbrooki (Poeciliidae). During serial floods, native fish appear to have a recruitment advantage over the exotic Gambusia. Hydrological persistence and its ecological correlates warrant consideration in research, planning and management, particularly in regard to the water resources of arid and semi-arid regions.
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