Factors affecting diatom distribution in floodplain lakes of the southeast Murray Basin, Australia and implications for palaeolimnological studies

Michael Reid, Ralph Ogden

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    30 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Diatom assemblages of surface sediments in 46 billabongs from four river floodplains in the southeast Murray-Darling Basin, Australia were sampled to investigate drivers of species distribution. The principal purpose of the study was to derive information to aid interpretation of diatom-based palaeoecological studies of these systems and of floodplain lakes more generally. Patterns in billabong diatom assemblages in relation to river reach, hydrology and farming intensity on surrounding land were examined, as were correlations with water quality variables. Seasonal variation in billabong water quality was high relative to spatial variation, and spatial patterns in billabong water quality were weak. In contrast, strong patterns were evident in diatom assemblages. Three main patterns were observed: (1) a distinction between billabongs dominated by planktonic diatoms from those dominated by benthic and attached forms; (2) differences in diatom assemblages in billabongs on different river reaches; and (3) differences in assemblages in billabongs with different hydrology. Of all water quality variables tested, total phosphorus (TP), total nitrogen (TN) and pH exerted the strongest independent influence on diatom distribution; however, only TP remained an important variable when species variation due to river reach, hydrology, and aquatic plant cover was taken into account. The weak influence of water quality on diatom distribution is interpreted as reflecting the dichotomy between plankton and non-plankton-dominated billabongs, the influence of hydrology and biogeography, the lack of strong spatial water quality gradients and the high degree of temporal variability in water quality. The findings show that diatom records from billabong sediments can provide evidence of long-term changes in the abundance of aquatic macrophytes and hydrology. They also suggest that merging calibration data sets across regions for the purpose of improving diatom transfer functions for water quality reconstruction is of limited value for floodplain lakes, and that performance is more likely to be gained by boosting site numbers within regions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)453-470
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
    Volume41
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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    Bacillariophyceae
    floodplains
    floodplain
    diatom
    basins
    billabong
    lakes
    water quality
    lake
    basin
    hydrology
    rivers
    river
    biogeography
    distribution
    phosphorus
    sediments
    aquatic plant
    aquatic plants
    long-term change

    Cite this

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    title = "Factors affecting diatom distribution in floodplain lakes of the southeast Murray Basin, Australia and implications for palaeolimnological studies",
    abstract = "Diatom assemblages of surface sediments in 46 billabongs from four river floodplains in the southeast Murray-Darling Basin, Australia were sampled to investigate drivers of species distribution. The principal purpose of the study was to derive information to aid interpretation of diatom-based palaeoecological studies of these systems and of floodplain lakes more generally. Patterns in billabong diatom assemblages in relation to river reach, hydrology and farming intensity on surrounding land were examined, as were correlations with water quality variables. Seasonal variation in billabong water quality was high relative to spatial variation, and spatial patterns in billabong water quality were weak. In contrast, strong patterns were evident in diatom assemblages. Three main patterns were observed: (1) a distinction between billabongs dominated by planktonic diatoms from those dominated by benthic and attached forms; (2) differences in diatom assemblages in billabongs on different river reaches; and (3) differences in assemblages in billabongs with different hydrology. Of all water quality variables tested, total phosphorus (TP), total nitrogen (TN) and pH exerted the strongest independent influence on diatom distribution; however, only TP remained an important variable when species variation due to river reach, hydrology, and aquatic plant cover was taken into account. The weak influence of water quality on diatom distribution is interpreted as reflecting the dichotomy between plankton and non-plankton-dominated billabongs, the influence of hydrology and biogeography, the lack of strong spatial water quality gradients and the high degree of temporal variability in water quality. The findings show that diatom records from billabong sediments can provide evidence of long-term changes in the abundance of aquatic macrophytes and hydrology. They also suggest that merging calibration data sets across regions for the purpose of improving diatom transfer functions for water quality reconstruction is of limited value for floodplain lakes, and that performance is more likely to be gained by boosting site numbers within regions.",
    keywords = "Billabongs, Rivers, Floodplains, Palaeolimnology",
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    Factors affecting diatom distribution in floodplain lakes of the southeast Murray Basin, Australia and implications for palaeolimnological studies. / Reid, Michael; Ogden, Ralph.

    In: Journal of Paleolimnology, Vol. 41, 2009, p. 453-470.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Factors affecting diatom distribution in floodplain lakes of the southeast Murray Basin, Australia and implications for palaeolimnological studies

    AU - Reid, Michael

    AU - Ogden, Ralph

    PY - 2009

    Y1 - 2009

    N2 - Diatom assemblages of surface sediments in 46 billabongs from four river floodplains in the southeast Murray-Darling Basin, Australia were sampled to investigate drivers of species distribution. The principal purpose of the study was to derive information to aid interpretation of diatom-based palaeoecological studies of these systems and of floodplain lakes more generally. Patterns in billabong diatom assemblages in relation to river reach, hydrology and farming intensity on surrounding land were examined, as were correlations with water quality variables. Seasonal variation in billabong water quality was high relative to spatial variation, and spatial patterns in billabong water quality were weak. In contrast, strong patterns were evident in diatom assemblages. Three main patterns were observed: (1) a distinction between billabongs dominated by planktonic diatoms from those dominated by benthic and attached forms; (2) differences in diatom assemblages in billabongs on different river reaches; and (3) differences in assemblages in billabongs with different hydrology. Of all water quality variables tested, total phosphorus (TP), total nitrogen (TN) and pH exerted the strongest independent influence on diatom distribution; however, only TP remained an important variable when species variation due to river reach, hydrology, and aquatic plant cover was taken into account. The weak influence of water quality on diatom distribution is interpreted as reflecting the dichotomy between plankton and non-plankton-dominated billabongs, the influence of hydrology and biogeography, the lack of strong spatial water quality gradients and the high degree of temporal variability in water quality. The findings show that diatom records from billabong sediments can provide evidence of long-term changes in the abundance of aquatic macrophytes and hydrology. They also suggest that merging calibration data sets across regions for the purpose of improving diatom transfer functions for water quality reconstruction is of limited value for floodplain lakes, and that performance is more likely to be gained by boosting site numbers within regions.

    AB - Diatom assemblages of surface sediments in 46 billabongs from four river floodplains in the southeast Murray-Darling Basin, Australia were sampled to investigate drivers of species distribution. The principal purpose of the study was to derive information to aid interpretation of diatom-based palaeoecological studies of these systems and of floodplain lakes more generally. Patterns in billabong diatom assemblages in relation to river reach, hydrology and farming intensity on surrounding land were examined, as were correlations with water quality variables. Seasonal variation in billabong water quality was high relative to spatial variation, and spatial patterns in billabong water quality were weak. In contrast, strong patterns were evident in diatom assemblages. Three main patterns were observed: (1) a distinction between billabongs dominated by planktonic diatoms from those dominated by benthic and attached forms; (2) differences in diatom assemblages in billabongs on different river reaches; and (3) differences in assemblages in billabongs with different hydrology. Of all water quality variables tested, total phosphorus (TP), total nitrogen (TN) and pH exerted the strongest independent influence on diatom distribution; however, only TP remained an important variable when species variation due to river reach, hydrology, and aquatic plant cover was taken into account. The weak influence of water quality on diatom distribution is interpreted as reflecting the dichotomy between plankton and non-plankton-dominated billabongs, the influence of hydrology and biogeography, the lack of strong spatial water quality gradients and the high degree of temporal variability in water quality. The findings show that diatom records from billabong sediments can provide evidence of long-term changes in the abundance of aquatic macrophytes and hydrology. They also suggest that merging calibration data sets across regions for the purpose of improving diatom transfer functions for water quality reconstruction is of limited value for floodplain lakes, and that performance is more likely to be gained by boosting site numbers within regions.

    KW - Billabongs

    KW - Rivers

    KW - Floodplains

    KW - Palaeolimnology

    U2 - 10.1007/s10933-008-9236-0

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    ER -