River regulation alters drivers of primary productivity along a tropical river-estuary system

Burford, M.A., Revill, A.T., Palmer, D.W., Clementson, L., Robson, B.J., and Webster, I.T. (2011) River regulation alters drivers of primary productivity along a tropical river-estuary system. Marine and Freshwater Research, 62 (2). pp. 141-151.

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Worldwide, rivers continue to be dammed to supply water for humans. The resulting regulation of downstream flow impacts on biogeochemical and physical processes, potentially affecting river and estuarine productivity. Our study tested the hypothesis that primary production in the downstream freshwater reaches of a dammed river was less limited by light and nutrients relative to downstream estuarine primary production. In a tropical dryland Australian river estuary, we found that water-column primary productivity was highest at freshwater sites that had lowest light attenuation. Nitrogen may also have limited primary productivity. Below the freshwater zone was a region of macrotidal mixing with high concentrations of suspended soil particles, nutrients and chlorophyll a, and lower but variable primary productivity rates. Light controlled productivity, but the algal cells may also have been osmotically stressed due to increasing salinity. Further downstream in the estuary, primary productivity was lower than the freshwater reaches and light and nutrient availability appear to be a factor. Therefore the reduced magnitude of peak-flow events due to flow regulation, and the resulting decrease in nutrient export, is likely to be negatively impacting estuarine primary production. This has implications for future development of dams where rivers have highly seasonal flow.

Item ID: 58037
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-6059
Keywords: light, nutrients, Ord River, river regulation, water quality
Copyright Information: Copyright CSIRO 2011.
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2019 09:22
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961102 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 60%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 40%
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