Hydrobiologia

, Volume 341, Issue 2, pp 101–111

Benthic faunas of streams of low pH but contrasting water chemistry in New Zealand

  • M. J. Winterbourn
  • W. F. McDiffett
Article

Abstract

Water chemistry and benthic invertebrate communities were investigated at 37 sites on acid streams originating on the Stockton-Denniston Plateau, North Westland, New Zealand. The region is characterised by high rainfall and runoff, highly acidic soils and the presence of extensive coal measures that have been mined for over 120 years. Four groups of streams were identified: naturally acid plateau streams with clear water and very low conductivity; brown water (humic) streams with pH<4 and low conductivity; coastal plains streams with higher pH and conductivity; and streams contaminated by acid mine drainage. TWINSPAN and cluster analysis also grouped streams into four groups based on presence-absence of invertebrate taxa, the groups being similar to, but not identical to those based on physico-chemical factors. Diptera (mainly Chironomidae) were represented by most species in all site groups followed by Plecoptera in plateau streams, and Trichoptera on the coastal plain and where mine drainage occurred. Species of Orthocladiinae (Chironomidae), Plecoptera and Trichoptera were found at the most contaminated sites (pH <3, conductivity >900 µS cm−1, total reactive aluminium >25 mg 1−1). The leptophlebiid mayfly Deleatidium was found at 32 of the 37 sites, and some species of Plecoptera, Trichoptera and Chironomidae were also widely distributed. Our findings indicate that species tolerant of low pH (i.e., <4.5) are not confined to humic waters as has been postulated, but also occur in soft, non-humic waters where concentrations of labile, non-organically bound aluminium may be elevated.

Key words

acid streams aluminium aquatic insects benthic invertebrates mine drainage New Zealand 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Baker, J. P. & S. W. Christensen, 1990. Effects of acidification on biological communities in aquatic ecosystems. In Charles, D. F. (ed.), Acidic deposition and aquatic ecosystems. Regional case studies. Springer-Verlag, New York: 83–105.Google Scholar
  2. Baker, J. P. & C. L. Schofield, 1982. Aluminum toxicity to fish in acid waters. Water, Air and Soil Poll. 18: 289–309.Google Scholar
  3. Cairns, J., J. S. Crossman, K. L. Dickson & E. E. Herricks, 1971. The recovery of damaged streams. ASB Bulletin 18: 79–106.Google Scholar
  4. Campbell, P. G. C. & P. M. Stokes, 1985. Acidification and toxicity of metals to aquatic biota. Can. J. Fish. aquat. Sci. 42: 2034–2049.Google Scholar
  5. Charles, D. F. (ed.), 1990. Acidic deposition and aquatic ecosystems. Regional case studies. Springer-Verlag, New York, 747 pp.Google Scholar
  6. Close, E. A. & H. K. J. Powell, 1989. Rapidly extracted (0.02 M CaCl2-soluble) ‘reactive’ aluminium as a measure of aluminium toxicity in soils. Aust. J. Soil Res. 27: 663–672.Google Scholar
  7. Close, M. E. & R. J. Davies-Colley, 1990. Baseflow water chemistry in New Zealand rivers. I. Characterisation. N.Z. J. mar. Freshwat. Res. 24: 319–341.Google Scholar
  8. Collier, K. J., 1988. Ecology of acid brownwater streams in Westland, New Zealand. Ph.D. thesis, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.Google Scholar
  9. Collier, K. J. & M. J. Winterbourn, 1987. Faunal and chemical dynamics of some acid and alkaline New Zealand streams. Freshwat. Biol. 18: 227–240.Google Scholar
  10. Collier, K. J., R. J. Jackson & M. J. Winterbourn, 1989a. Dissolved organic carbon dynamics of developed and undeveloped catchments in Westland, New Zealand. Arch. Hydrobiol. 117: 21–38.Google Scholar
  11. Collier, K. J., M. J. Winterbourn & R. J. Jackson, 1989b. Impacts of wetland afforestation on the distribution of benthic invertebrates in acid streams of Westland, New Zealand. N.Z. J. mar. Freshwat. Res. 23: 479–490.Google Scholar
  12. Collier, K. J., O. J. Ball, A. K. Graesser, M. R. Main & M. J. Winterbourn, 1990. Do organic and anthropogenic acidity have similar effects on aquatic fauna? Oikos 59: 33–38.Google Scholar
  13. Death, R. G. & M. J. Winterbourn, 1995. Diversity patterns in stream benthic invertebrate communities: the influence of habitat stability. Ecology 76: 1446–1460.Google Scholar
  14. Driscoll, C. T., J. P. Baker, J. J. Bisogni & C. L. Schofield, 1980. Effect of aluminium speciation on fish in dilute acidified waters. Nature 284: 161–164.Google Scholar
  15. Garr, C. E. & B. B. Fitzharris, 1991. A climate classification of New Zealand based on numerical techniques. N.Z. Geog. 47: 60–71.Google Scholar
  16. Giberson, D. J. & R. J. Mackay, 1991. Life history and distribution of mayflies (Ephemeroptera) in some acid streams in south central Ontario, Canada. Can. J. Zool. 69: 899–910.Google Scholar
  17. Hargreaves, J. W., E. J. H. Lloyd & B. A. Whitton, 1975. Chemistry and vegetation of highly acidic streams. Freshwat. Biol. 5: 563–576.Google Scholar
  18. Havas, M., 1985. Aluminum bioaccumulation and toxicity to Daphnia magna in soft water at low pH. Can. J. Fish. aquat. Sci. 42: 1741–1748.Google Scholar
  19. Hawke, D. J. & H. K. J. Powell, 1994. Flow-injection analysis applied to the kinetic determination of reactive (toxic) aluminium: comparison of chromophores. Anal. Chim. Acta 299: 257–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Holden, R. & T. S. Clarkson, 1986. Acid rain: a New Zealand viewpoint. J. r. Soc. N.Z. 16: 1–15.Google Scholar
  21. Howells, G., 1995. Acid rain and acid waters. 2nd edn., Ellis Horwood, New York, 262 pp.Google Scholar
  22. Lindegaard, C., 1995. Classification of water-bodies and pollution. In Armitage, P., P. S. Cranston & L. C. V. Pinder (eds), The Chironomidae: Biology and ecology of non-biting midges. Chapman & Hall, London: 385–404.Google Scholar
  23. Mackereth, F. H. J., 1963. Some methods of water analysis for limnologists. F.B.A. Publ. 21, 90 pp.Google Scholar
  24. Mason, B. J. (ed.), 1990. The surface waters acidification programme. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 522 pp.Google Scholar
  25. Mason, C. F., 1991. Biology of freshwater pollution. 2nd edn. Longman/John Wiley, New York. 351 pp.Google Scholar
  26. McCune, B., 1991. Multivariate analysis on the PC-ORD system. Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana. HRI report 75.Google Scholar
  27. Moore, T. R. & R. J. Jackson, 1989. Dynamics of dissolved organic carbon in forested and disturbed catchments, Westland, New Zealand 2. Larry River. War. Res. Res. 25: 1331–1339.Google Scholar
  28. Nelson, S. M., 1995. Observed field tolerance of caddisfly larvae (Hesperophylax sp.) to high metal concentrations and low pH. J. Freshwat. Ecol. 9: 169–170.Google Scholar
  29. NWASCO, 1980. The frequency of high intensity rainfalls in New Zealand. National Water & Soil Conservation Organisation.Google Scholar
  30. Okland, J. & K. A. Okland, 1986. The effects of acid deposition on benthic animals in lakes and streams. Experientia 42: 471–486.Google Scholar
  31. Pickering, R. J. & J. J. Musser, 1970. Influences of strip-mining on the hydrologic environment of parts of Beaver Creek Basin, Kentucky, 1955–66. Prof. Pap. U.S. Geol. Surv. 427-C.Google Scholar
  32. Richardson, L., 1995. Coal, class and community. The United Mineworkers of New Zealand, 1880–1960. Auckland University Press, Auckland. 344 pp.Google Scholar
  33. Rogeberg, E. J. & A. Hendrikson, 1985. An automatic method for fractionation and determination of aluminium species in freshwaters. Vatten 41: 48–53.Google Scholar
  34. Sadler, K. & S. Lynam, 1988. The influence of calcium on aluminium-induced changes in the growth rate and mortality of brown trout, Salmo trutta L. J. Fish. Biol. 33: 171–179.Google Scholar
  35. Simpson, P., 1982. Ecological regions and districts of New Zealand. A natural subdivision. Biological Resources Centre Publ. l.Google Scholar
  36. Smith, M. & P. S. Cranston, 1995. ‘Recovery’ of an acid mine-waste impacted tropical stream — the chironomid story. In Cranston, P. (ed.), Chironomids from genes to ecosystems. CSIRO Publications, East Melbourne, Australia: 155–166.Google Scholar
  37. Stenzel, A. & R. Herrmann, 1990. Comparing the effects of acid deposition on the chemistry of small streams in the South Island of New Zealand with those in the Fichtelgebirge, F.R.G. Catena 17: 69–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stewart, A. E., 1993. Aluminium and pH tolerance of some New Zealand stream invertebrates. M.Sc. thesis, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.Google Scholar
  39. Sutcliffe, D. W. & A. G. Hildrew, 1989. Invertebrate communities in acid streams. In Morris, R., E. W. Taylor, D. J. A. Brown & J. A. Brown (eds), Acid toxicity and aquatic animals. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 13–29.Google Scholar
  40. Tabak, L. M. & K. Gibbs, 1991. Effects of aluminium, calcium and low pH on egg hatching and nymphal survival of Cloenn triangulifer McDunnough (Ephemeroptera: Baetidae). Hydrobiologia 218: 157–166.Google Scholar
  41. Timmins, S. & K. King (eds), 1984. Register of protected natural areas in New Zealand. Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington, New Zealand, 467 pp.Google Scholar
  42. Tomkiewicz, S. M. & W. A. Dunson, 1977. Aquatic insect diversity and biomass in a stream marginally polluted by acid strip mine drainage. War. Res. 11: 397–402.Google Scholar
  43. Towns, D. R., 1985. Life history patterns and their influence on monitoring invertebrate communities. Water & Soil Misc. Publ. 83: 225–239.Google Scholar
  44. Ward, J. V., S. P. Canton & L. J. Gray, 1978. The stream environment and macroinvertebrate communities: contrasting effects of mining in Colorado and the eastern United States. In Thorp, J. H. & J. W. Gibbons (eds), Energy and environmental stress in aquatic systems. DOE Symposium Series (CONF-771114), Springfield, Va: 176–187.Google Scholar
  45. Warner, R. W., 1971. Distribution of biota in a stream polluted by acid mine-drainage. Ohio J. Sci. 71: 202–215.Google Scholar
  46. Whipple, A. V. & W. A. Dunstan, 1993. Amelioration of the toxicity of H+ to larval stoneflies by metals found in coal mine effluent. Arch. envir. Contam. Toxicol. 24: 194–200.Google Scholar
  47. Willett, R. W., 1965. Coal. In Williams, G. J. (ed.), Economic geology of New Zealand. John Mclndoe, Dunedin: 279–329.Google Scholar
  48. Winterbourn, M. J. & K. J. Collier, 1987. Distribution of benthic invertebrates in acid, brown water streams in the South Island of New Zealand. Hydrobiologia 153: 277–286.Google Scholar
  49. Wren, C. D. & G. L. Stephenson, 1991. The effect of acidification on the accumulation and toxicity of metals to freshwater invertebrates. Envir. Pollut. 71: 205–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Winterbourn
    • 1
  • W. F. McDiffett
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Biology DepartmentBucknell UniversityLewisburgUSA

Personalised recommendations