Potential for algal blooms in tropical rivers of the Northern Territory, Australia

G Ganf, Naomi Rea

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Rivers in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia are under pressure from increasing vegetation clearance, land use and nutrient run-off. The literature on algal blooms clearly identifies the predisposing factors but in the NT, these factors are not well researched. We report on the potential for tropical rivers to experience problems related to algal growth. NT rivers were found to have a low nutrient status and a viable inoculum of blue-green, brown and green algal communities. The growth response of these algal groups to nutrient enrichment via bioassays and pulse-amplitude-modulation (PAM) fluorometry measurements varied among rivers and the addition of N, P or N&P. However, the overwhelming findings were that all rivers had the potential to experience algal blooms with enrichment. Back-calculations based on the chlorophyll concentrations recorded in bioassay experiments and stoichiometric ratios of chlorophyll:nutrients suggest there are pools of biologically available organic forms of N and P in addition to inorganic forms. The role of river length in the development of algal blooms was investigated: the longer the river reach, the slower the flow, and the greater the availability of nutrients, the higher potential for algal blooms. Given the strong indications that increased nutrient run-off to tropical rivers will result in algal blooms, prudent land-use and development with nutrient management strategies is essential. � CSIRO 2007.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)315-326
    Number of pages12
    JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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