Aquatic Ecosystem Degradation of High Conservation Value Upland Swamps, Blue Mountains Australia
Temperate highland peat swamps on sandstone (THPSS) are unique state and federally protected ecological communities. THPSS is a higher level classification which is comprised of multiple swamp communities which include Blue Mountains Swamps and Newnes Plateau Shrub Swamps. The Blue Mountains has a string of urban settlements surrounded by large expanses of undisturbed natural vegetation which have varied degrees of protection ranging from state forests to World Heritage national parks. This study investigated aquatic invertebrates from seven THPSS within the Greater Blue Mountains area. Four swamps drain catchments with varying degrees of urban development and associated impervious surfaces, and three swamps have non-urban, naturally vegetated catchments. Water chemistry of non-urban swamps was acidic (mean pH 4.70) and dilute (mean EC 26.7 uS/cm) and dominated by sodium and chloride ions with most other major ions at low concentrations often below detection limits (Belmer et al. 2015). In contrast, urban swamps had higher pH (mean 6.60) and salinity (mean 153.9 uS/cm) and were dominated by calcium and bicarbonate ions (Belmer et al. 2015). Aquatic macroinvertebrate abundance, family richness and % EPT taxa were all found to be lower within urban swamps when compared to non-urban swamps. These results support the hypothesis of Belmer et al. (2015) that urban runoff within THPSS catchments is affecting the condition of their aquatic ecosystems.
KeywordsAquatic macroinvertebrate Stormwater Blue Mountains Swamps Endangered ecosystems Urban stream syndrome Ecosystem health
We acknowledge and pay our respects to the traditional custodians of the land in which this study was conducted, the Darug, Gundungarra and Wiradjurri people and their elders past and present. We also acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Ian Baird, Dr. Sarsha Gorissen and Nicholas Szafraniec.
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