Periphyton indicate effects of wastewater discharge in the near-coastal zone, Perth (Western Australia)

J. Cosgrove, Diana Walker, P. Morrison, K. Hillman

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    Abstract

    Periphyton communities on artificial substrata were successfully utilised as a biological indicator of the potential eutrophic effects of wastewater discharge into coastal waters off Perth, Western Australia. Biomass and percentage carbonate content measurements of periphyton communities grown in situ indicated that the periphyton primary production (organic weight) was enhanced in the vicinity of the discharge outlets, with a significant negative correlation between distance north of the northern outlet in Whitfords Lagoon and periphyton organic weight (OW) observed in autumn at a depth of 4 m (r = −0.704, P <0.001). However, this response was primarily limited to the relatively calm autumn season and substrata at depths of 2 m and 4 m. Thus, in favourable conditions phytoplankton and high relief reef communities are more likely to exhibit a eutrophic influence (in the form of enhanced primary production) of the treated wastewater discharge. Laboratory studies confirmed that treated wastewater, diluted 100-fold to estimate surface concentrations above the wastewater outfalls in the field, stimulates periphyton growth above levels recorded in unpolluted seawater (F = 12.485; P = 0.0073).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)331-338
    JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
    Volume61
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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