Primary production and nutrient dynamics in solar salt ponds

Richard Segal

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    170 Downloads (Pure)


    [Truncated abstract. Formulae and special characters in this field can only be approximated. See PDF version for accurate reproduction.] Solar salt producers use solar energy to evaporate seawater as it flows through a series of ponds. The Shark Bay Salt solar ponds, at Useless Inlet in Western Australia, vary in salinity from that of seawater to four times seawater, over the pond sequence. Water column photosynthesis and biomass decreased markedly with increasing salinity along the pond sequence, while benthic productivity increased as cyanobacterial mats developed. Correspondingly, net productivity shifted from autotrophy to heterotrophy in the water column and from heterotrophy to autotrophy in the benthos. Both shifts occurred at intermediate salinity in the pond sequence, where there was low production in both the water column and benthos. Within individual ponds, productivity, algal biomass and physico-chemical conditions were relatively constant over the year of study. Transitions between benthic and planktonic production along the pond sequence were driven mostly by direct responses to salinity stress, as well as the formation of a gypsum crust on the pond floors at higher salinity (>120 g kg-1). This transition is similar to that which occurs in saline lakes undergoing anthropogenic salinisation and identifies critical salinities for the restoration of these lakes.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2005


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