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A diatom dataset and diatom-salinity inference model for southeast Australian estuaries and coastal lakes

Abstract

To quantify the relationship between diatom species assemblages and the water chemistry of southeast Australian estuaries and coastal lakes, a new dataset of 81 modern diatom samples and water chemistry data was created. Three hundred and ninety-nine species from 53 genera were identified in 36 samples from 32 coastal water bodies in eastern Tasmania and 45 samples from 13 coastal water bodies in southern Victoria. Multivariate statistical analyses revealed that the sampling sites were primarily distributed along salinity and nutrient gradients, and that salinity, nitrate + nitrite, phosphate and turbidity explained independent portions of variance in the diatom data. Species salinity optima and tolerances were determined and a diatom-salinity inference model (WAinv r 2 = 0.72, r 2jack = 0.58, RMSEP = 0.09 log ppt) was developed. This new information on diatom species’ salinity preferences provides a useful tool for quantitatively reconstructing salinity changes over time from diatom microfossils preserved in the sediments of a range of estuaries and coastal lakes in southeast Australia. This is valuable for studies investigating long-term human impacts and climate change in the region.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded by an Australian Postgraduate Award, with additional funding from the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering, Project Aware and the PADI Foundation. I would particularly like to thank Dr. Dom Hodgson for his advice throughout the project and preparation of this manuscript. I would also like to thank Kathryn Taffs, Kaarina Weckström, John Gibson and Andrew McMinn for project advice and taxonomic assistance; Steve Juggins for statistical advice; and Kate Dziegielewska, Jessie Webb and Sarah Lovibond for field assistance. Special thanks are also due to the two anonymous reviewers of the original version of this manuscript for their very helpful suggestions, which resulted in a much improved presentation of the results.

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Correspondence to Krystyna M. Saunders.

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Saunders, K.M. A diatom dataset and diatom-salinity inference model for southeast Australian estuaries and coastal lakes. J Paleolimnol 46, 525–542 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10933-010-9456-y

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Keywords

  • Diatoms
  • Multivariate analyses
  • Transfer function
  • Australia
  • Water quality
  • Coast