Benthic metabolism as an indicator of stream ecosystem health

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Title Benthic metabolism as an indicator of stream ecosystem health
Author Fellows, Christy Susan; Clapcott, Joanne; Udy, James White; Bunn, Stuart; Harch, Bronwyn D.; Smith, Michael; Davies, Peter M.
Journal Name Hydrobiologia
Year Published 2006
Place of publication Dordrecht, Netherlands
Publisher Springer
Abstract We tested direct and indirect measures of benthic metabolism as indicators of stream ecosystem health across a known agricultural land-use disturbance gradient in southeast Queensland, Australia. Gross primary production (GPP) and respiration (R-24) in benthic chambers in cobble and sediment habitats, algal biomass (as chlorophyll a) from cobbles and sediment cores, algal biomass accrual on artificial substrates and stable carbon isotope ratios of aquatic plants and benthic sediments were measured at 53 stream sites, ranging from undisturbed subtropical rainforest to catchments where improved pasture and intensive cropping are major land-uses. Rates of benthic GPP and R-24 varied by more than two orders of magnitude across the study gradient. Generalised linear regression modelling explained 80% or more of the variation in these two indicators when sediment and cobble substrate dominated sites were considered separately, and both catchment and reach scale descriptors of the disturbance gradient were important in explaining this variation. Model fits were poor for net daily benthic metabolism (NDM) and production to respiration ratio (P/R). Algal biomass accrual on artificial substrate and stable carbon isotope ratios of aquatic plants and benthic sediment were the best of the indirect indicators, with regression model R-2 values of 50% or greater. Model fits were poor for algal biomass on natural substrates for cobble sites and all sites. None of these indirect measures of benthic metabolism was a good surrogate for measured GPP. Direct measures of benthic metabolism, GPP and R-24, and several indirect measures were good indicators of stream ecosystem health and are recommended in assessing process-related responses to riparian and catchment land use change and the success of ecosystem rehabilitation actions.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Alternative URI http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10750-005-9001-6
Copyright Statement Copyright 2006 Springer. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Volume 572
Page from 71
Page to 87
ISSN 0018-8158
Date Accessioned 2006-07-18
Date Available 2010-08-26T07:38:22Z
Language en_AU
Research Centre Australian Rivers Institute
Faculty Faculty of Science, Environment, Engineering and Technology
Subject PRE2009-Freshwater Ecology
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/14479
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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