Salinity Tolerances of Selected Macroinvertebrates of the Sabie River, Kruger National Park, South Africa

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Abstract.

Salinization has been identified as the most important problem facing the managers of South African freshwaters. Laboratory-based toxicity tests were conducted to assess the tolerance of selected macroinvertebrates to elevated salt concentrations. Since the Kruger National Park is the focus of river research in South Africa, and the Sabie River is the least mineralized river in the park, 96-h acute toxicity tests were conducted using Sabie River water and an ephemeropteran mayfly Tricorythus sp. found in the river. Experiments were conducted in flowing water systems known as raceways. The tolerance of the mayfly to two sodium salts, sodium chloride and sodium sulphate, was assessed at a range of selected conductivity levels/concentrations. The results indicated that mortality cannot be linked only to conductivity or total dissolved solid (TDS) concentrations, but also to the nature of the salt. Sodium sulphate was considerably more toxic to Tricorythus sp. than sodium chloride. Causes of mortality and implications for the development of water quality guidelines for the natural aquatic environment are discussed.

Received: 1 April 1996/Revised: 21 July 1996