, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 105-114

Eutrophic waters of southwestern Australia

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Water bodies in coastal areas of southwestern Australia are predisposed to eutrophication. The sandy soils of the catchments retain nutrients poorly, streamflow is highly seasonal, most freshwater wetlands are small and shallow, and the estuaries are poorly flushed. Nearshore waters lack the conventional upwelling of other coastal regions in these latitudes. Consequences include increased macroalgal growth and phytoplankton blooms, especially of cyanobacteria, and loss of seagrasses. Changes to fish and invertebrate populations result both from increased algal production and low oxygen concentrations. Algal toxins and outbreaks of botulism have caused waterbird casualties. Phosphorus is especially important in controlling plant biomass in freshwater wetlands and estuaries, and N in some wetlands and coastal embayments. In the examples reviewed here nutrients are derived mainly from fertilizer applications in catchments and rural industries, and from sewage and individual discharges to coastal waters.