The response of stream macro-invertebrate communities to catchment clearing and riparian condition in the Darwin region (Tropical Australia)

The response of stream macro-invertebrate communities to catchment clearing and riparian condition in the Darwin region (Tropical Australia)

Title
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsTownsend, SA, Dostine, PL, Dixon, I, Karfs, R, Douglas, MM
EditorRutherford, ID, Wiszniewski, I, Askey-Doran, MA, Glazik, R
Conference Name4th Australian Stream Management Conference
Date Published19-22 October 2004
PublisherDept of Primary Industries, Water and Environment
Conference LocationLauncestonHobart, Tasmania
ISBN Number0724663362
Abstract

The association btween stream biotic health, measured by the macro-invertebrate AUSRIVAS OE50 score and taxa richness, and the proportion of native vegetation cleared in the catchment and riparian condition was assessed for 18 sites in the Darwin region (tropical Australia). OE50 scores for sites with a cleared catchment of between 2 and 50%, ranged between 0.70 and 1.25, and aveeraged 0.99, which approximates the 'refernce' condition. When catchment clearing exceeded 50%, there was a greater likelihood of lower OE50 scores, which ranged between 0.58 and 1.03, and averaged 0.78 to indicate a loss of common taxa. Similar trends were found for taxa richness. No relationship however was evident between the OE50 score or taxa richness and a site's riparian condition, which was generally considered as either good or excellent. Larger scale catchment influences appear to have a greater effect on stream macro-invertebrates than local site effects, through the mechanisms for this are not known but speculated to be modifications to the catchment's hydrology and geomorphology. Ecological factors associated with the dispersal and colonisation of macro-invertebrates, and predation by fish are alternative explanations. Further work is required to determine the specific disturbances to Darwin's strems, and how they affect macro-invertebrate communities, to inform stream managers and assist in directing a management response. In summary, the health of streams in the Darwin region is impacted when the amount of cleared land, that is replaced by other land-users, exceeds about half the catchment area.

URLhttp://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:1801

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