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A study of the salt lakes and salt springs of Eyre Peninsula, South Australia

Abstract

An 18-month-study of 40 saline wetlands, ranging from 6 to 336 g l−1, on the west and southern coasts of Eyre Peninsula yielded 88 species of invertebrates, some aquatic plants and a fish. The invertebrates are taxonomically diverse and include 38 crustaceans, 28 insects, 12 molluscs and significantly an aquatic spider, a nemertean, two polychaetes, two sea anemones, a sponge and a bryzoan. Most were tolerant of wide fluctuations in salinity, there being 51 halobionts, 21 halophils and only 16 salt-tolerant freshwater species. Many invertebrates are restricted to the thalassic springs where marine molluscs dominated. Athalassic wetlands were dominated by crustaceans and were of two basic types—coastal and continental. There is evidence of the former evolving biologically into the later, and for some lakes to be still in transition. There is also evidence of increasing salinity in recent decades and already two lakes exhibit severe secondary salinity. Like other salt lakes in Australia the fauna is regionally distinctive.

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Acknowledgements

I thank the Department of Environment and Heritage for financial support and access to Conservation Reserves and to many landowners for access to lakes on their properties. I was ably helped in the field variously by Coralie Berger, Katie Brown, Louise Micalef, John Vosper (twice), and Sarah Wythes. I am grateful to many taxonomists for identifications Adriana Garcia (macroalgae), Stuart Halse (mytilocyprinid ostracods and Heterocypris), Pat Hutchings (polychaetes), Stephen Keable (marine isopods), Thierry Laperousaz (fish, cnidarians, bryzoans), Jane McRae (harpacticoid copepods), Anna Murray (marine amphipods), Winston Ponder (molluscs), Russ Shiel (cyclopoid copepods), Ros St. Clair (caddis larvae), Chris Watts (beetles), and Cameron Webb (mosquito). I also thank Peri Coleman, Patrick De Deckker, Stuart Halse, Paula Peeters, local citizens listed in the text and the Bureau of Meteorology for information, Nigel May for allowing his farm to be used as a base, and Ian Bayly for constructive criticism of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Brian V. Timms.

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Guest Editors: J. John & B. Timms

Salt Lake Research: Biodiversity and Conservation—Selected papers from the 9th Conference of the International Society for Salt Lake Research

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Timms, B.V. A study of the salt lakes and salt springs of Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. Hydrobiologia 626, 41–51 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-009-9736-6

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Keywords

  • Marine springs
  • Coastal salinas
  • Continental salinas
  • Invertebrates
  • Fish
  • Aquatic plants