Ann. Limnol. - Int. J. Lim.
Volume 53, 2017
|Page(s)||221 - 232|
|Published online||22 May 2017|
Water-quality variability in dryland riverine waterholes: a challenge for ecosystem assessment
College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Queensland 4811, Australia
* Corresponding author: email@example.com
† Present address: Dr C.M. Preite, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89030, USA
Received: 13 December 2016
Accepted: 27 March 2017
Waterholes in intermittent dryland rivers are important biotic refugia, but detailed water-quality descriptions of these habitats are rare. Their possible variability in water quality, due to variable flow regimes, may impede development of appropriate water-quality guidelines. We investigated this issue by describing spatial and temporal variation in water quality in waterholes in a tropical Australian dryland system. Water quality varied considerably among three rivers, between sites within rivers and within sites, reflecting lithology, hydrology, bathymetry, local catchment influences, stratification and within-site patchiness. Seasonal variation was due to differences in insolation, temperature, flow and depth. Diel variation was high for pH and dissolved oxygen (DO) at some sites. Variation among locations within waterholes was low for DO, temperature and pH, but higher for chlorophyll and nutrients, due to shade-related patchy photosynthesis. Neither the rivers nor the waterholes within them could indicate water-quality reference conditions because of their different characteristics. Our results highlight the need for strategic timing and location of sampling to capture spatial and temporal variation in key water-quality variables and to identify critical ecological conditions in dryland riverine waterholes.
Key words: River health / monitoring / dissolved oxygen / Australia / tropics
© EDP Sciences, 2017
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