Seasonal changes in water quality and macrophytes and the impact of cattle on tropical floodplain waterholes

N Pettit, Tim Jardine, Stephen Hamilton, Vivian Sinnamon, D Valdez, P Davies, Michael Douglas, S Bunn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    The present study indicates the critical role of hydrologic connectivity in floodplain waterholes in the wetdry tropics of northern Australia. These waterbodies provide dry-season refugia for plants and animals, are a hotspot of productivity, and are a critical part in the subsistence economy of many remote Aboriginal communities. We examined seasonal changes in water quality and aquatic plant cover of floodplain waterholes, and related changes to variation of waterhole depth and visitation by livestock. The waterholes showed declining water quality through the dry season, which was exacerbated by more frequent cattle usage as conditions became progressively drier, which also increased turbidity and nutrient concentrations. Aquatic macrophyte biomass was highest in the early dry season, and declined as the dry season progressed. Remaining macrophytes were flushed out by the first wet-season flows, although they quickly re-establish later during the wet season. Waterholes of greater depth were more resistant to the effects of cattle disturbance, and seasonal flushing of the waterholes with wet-season flooding homogenised the water quality and increased plant cover of previously disparate waterholes. Therefore, maintaining high levels of connectivity between the river and its floodplain is vital for the persistence of these waterholes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)788-800
    Number of pages13
    JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
    Volume63
    Issue number9
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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    Water Quality
    macrophytes
    floodplains
    dry season
    floodplain
    cattle
    water quality
    wet season
    connectivity
    ground cover plants
    aquatic plant
    aquatic plants
    refugium
    subsistence
    refuge habitats
    macrophyte
    flushing
    turbidity
    livestock
    tropics

    Cite this

    Pettit, N., Jardine, T., Hamilton, S., Sinnamon, V., Valdez, D., Davies, P., ... Bunn, S. (2012). Seasonal changes in water quality and macrophytes and the impact of cattle on tropical floodplain waterholes. Marine and Freshwater Research, 63(9), 788-800. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF12114
    Pettit, N ; Jardine, Tim ; Hamilton, Stephen ; Sinnamon, Vivian ; Valdez, D ; Davies, P ; Douglas, Michael ; Bunn, S. / Seasonal changes in water quality and macrophytes and the impact of cattle on tropical floodplain waterholes. In: Marine and Freshwater Research. 2012 ; Vol. 63, No. 9. pp. 788-800.
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    abstract = "The present study indicates the critical role of hydrologic connectivity in floodplain waterholes in the wetdry tropics of northern Australia. These waterbodies provide dry-season refugia for plants and animals, are a hotspot of productivity, and are a critical part in the subsistence economy of many remote Aboriginal communities. We examined seasonal changes in water quality and aquatic plant cover of floodplain waterholes, and related changes to variation of waterhole depth and visitation by livestock. The waterholes showed declining water quality through the dry season, which was exacerbated by more frequent cattle usage as conditions became progressively drier, which also increased turbidity and nutrient concentrations. Aquatic macrophyte biomass was highest in the early dry season, and declined as the dry season progressed. Remaining macrophytes were flushed out by the first wet-season flows, although they quickly re-establish later during the wet season. Waterholes of greater depth were more resistant to the effects of cattle disturbance, and seasonal flushing of the waterholes with wet-season flooding homogenised the water quality and increased plant cover of previously disparate waterholes. Therefore, maintaining high levels of connectivity between the river and its floodplain is vital for the persistence of these waterholes.",
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    Pettit, N, Jardine, T, Hamilton, S, Sinnamon, V, Valdez, D, Davies, P, Douglas, M & Bunn, S 2012, 'Seasonal changes in water quality and macrophytes and the impact of cattle on tropical floodplain waterholes', Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 63, no. 9, pp. 788-800. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF12114

    Seasonal changes in water quality and macrophytes and the impact of cattle on tropical floodplain waterholes. / Pettit, N; Jardine, Tim; Hamilton, Stephen; Sinnamon, Vivian; Valdez, D; Davies, P; Douglas, Michael; Bunn, S.

    In: Marine and Freshwater Research, Vol. 63, No. 9, 2012, p. 788-800.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Seasonal changes in water quality and macrophytes and the impact of cattle on tropical floodplain waterholes

    AU - Pettit, N

    AU - Jardine, Tim

    AU - Hamilton, Stephen

    AU - Sinnamon, Vivian

    AU - Valdez, D

    AU - Davies, P

    AU - Douglas, Michael

    AU - Bunn, S

    PY - 2012

    Y1 - 2012

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    AB - The present study indicates the critical role of hydrologic connectivity in floodplain waterholes in the wetdry tropics of northern Australia. These waterbodies provide dry-season refugia for plants and animals, are a hotspot of productivity, and are a critical part in the subsistence economy of many remote Aboriginal communities. We examined seasonal changes in water quality and aquatic plant cover of floodplain waterholes, and related changes to variation of waterhole depth and visitation by livestock. The waterholes showed declining water quality through the dry season, which was exacerbated by more frequent cattle usage as conditions became progressively drier, which also increased turbidity and nutrient concentrations. Aquatic macrophyte biomass was highest in the early dry season, and declined as the dry season progressed. Remaining macrophytes were flushed out by the first wet-season flows, although they quickly re-establish later during the wet season. Waterholes of greater depth were more resistant to the effects of cattle disturbance, and seasonal flushing of the waterholes with wet-season flooding homogenised the water quality and increased plant cover of previously disparate waterholes. Therefore, maintaining high levels of connectivity between the river and its floodplain is vital for the persistence of these waterholes.

    KW - aquatic plant

    KW - biomass

    KW - cattle

    KW - connectivity

    KW - disturbance

    KW - flooding

    KW - floodplain

    KW - indigenous population

    KW - lacustrine environment

    KW - macrophyte

    KW - persistence

    KW - refugium

    KW - seasonal variation

    KW - tropical environment

    KW - water quality

    KW - Australia

    U2 - 10.1071/MF12114

    DO - 10.1071/MF12114

    M3 - Article

    VL - 63

    SP - 788

    EP - 800

    JO - Marine & Freshwater Research

    JF - Marine & Freshwater Research

    SN - 0067-1940

    IS - 9

    ER -