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A review of the salt sensitivity of the Australian freshwater biota

Abstract

In Victoria, Australia, both dryland salinity and salinity in irrigation regions are serious agricultural problems. One option to control the latter is to pump groundwater to maintain it below the surface. However, this leaves a saline wastewater for disposal, probably into local streams or wetlands. This review of the salt sensitivity of the biota of Australian streams and wetlands gives information of interest to those responsible for developing controls on these discharges. The review addresses the lethal and sub-lethal effects of salinity on microbes (mainly bacteria), macrophytes and micro-algae, riparian vegetation, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds. Data suggest that direct adverse biological effects are likely to occur in Australian river, stream and wetland ecosystems if salinity is increased to around 1 000 mg L−1. The review highlights a general lack of data on the sensitivity of freshwater plants and animals to salinity increases.

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Hart, B.T., Bailey, P., Edwards, R. et al. A review of the salt sensitivity of the Australian freshwater biota. Hydrobiologia 210, 105–144 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00014327

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Key words

  • salinity
  • rivers
  • stream
  • wetland
  • biological effects
  • Australia