Response of aquatic macroinvertebrate and aerial odonate assemblages to the removal of invasive alien trees in the Western Cape

Sharratt, Norma (2005-12)

Thesis (MSc)--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Invasive alien trees, especially Acacia species, are a great threat to biodiversity in South African rivers. The national Working for Water Programme is addressing the alien problem by removing alien trees from river margins. The concern is that this may be creating even further disturbance by affecting water quality and habitats. In particular, how is this affecting rare and endemic species? Benthic macro invertebrates and aerial odonates were assessed along five Western Cape rivers in alien-invaded, cleared and natural sites between December and March. The aim was to assess the effect of both alien invasion and alien clearing on aquatic invertebrates. Odonata, being easily sampled, were also assessed as they are severely affected by the lack of understorey plants in shaded, alien-invaded sites. Odonata and benthic macroinvertebrates were treated as two separate studies and no attempt was made to correlate the results obtained from both studies. SASS5, a qualitative, rapid bioassessment technique, based on the sensitivity of the families present, was used as a measure of river health and, indirectly, of water quality. SASS indicated a decline in water quality conditions after alien clearing, a likely response to the greater insolation as well as erosion of cleared banks, resulting in elevated temperatures and suspended solids and lowered oxygen levels. Community responses to alien disturbance and other environmental factors were analysed using PRIMER and CANOCO software. Assemblages of Odonata were found to provide a rapid, cost-effective means of assessment and monitoring. Potential indicator and detector species were also identified using the lndicator Value method. Assemblage patterns of aquatic invertebrates, however, were dominated by between-river and seasonal effects. Therefore, while SASS detected overall changes in river health, without identifying the cause, potential aquatic detector taxa were identified that may be useful for linking general disturbance to alien invasion or clearing. All indicator and detector taxa identified in both studies can be used for long-term monitoring and for identifying biodiverse areas for clearing or protection. In both studies, sensitive, endemic taxa were lost after clearing, being replaced by more tolerant, widespread taxa. Recovery of the biota appears to follow the recovery succession of the vegetation, with most sensitive or endemic taxa only appearing after the recovery of indigenous plants. A number of recommendations are made regarding the restoration of both water quality (particularly with respect to shade and soil erosion) and biotope availability (particularly in terms of the recultivation of indigenous plants) in order to achieve biodiversity objectives. The role of catchment management, prioritisation procedures and long-term monitoring are also discussed.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Uitheemse, indringerbome, veral Acacia spesies, is 'n groot bedreiging vir biodiversiteit in Suid- Afrikaanse riviere. Die nasionale Werk vir Water-projek spreek hierdie probleem aan deur uitheemse bome van rivieroewers te verwyder. Die kommer is dat water kwaliteit en habitatte sodoende verder versteur kan word. Byvoorbeeld, hoe word endemiese en bedreigde spesies geraak? Akwatiese makroinvertebrate en volwasse Odonata in vyf Wes-Kaapse riviere is tussen Desember en Maart bestudeer en gemonster in natuurlike gebiede, in gebiede waar indringerbome teenwoordig is, en in gebiede waar hulle verwyder is. Die doel was om die effek van indringerverwante impakte op akwatiese invertebrate vas te stel. Odonata is ook bestudeer omdat hulle maklik gemonster kan word en omdat hulle ernstig geraak word deur indringers. Die uitheemse plantegroei oorskadu die oewers en verhoed die groei van inheemse oewerplante. Die bentiese makro-invertebrate en Odonata is as twee aparte studies behandel en geen poging is gemaak om die resultate van die twee te vergelyk nie. SASSS, 'n kwalitatiewe, bioasseseringsmetode wat op die sensitiwiteit van die aanwesige families baseer word, is gebruik om waterkwaliteit op 'n indirekte manier te bepaal. SASS het aangedui dat daar 'n afname in waterkwaliteit is nadat indringerplante verwyder is. Dit is moontlik as 'n gevolg van groter blootstelling aan sonskyn en erosie van rivieroewers wat veroorsaak dat temperature en die hoeveelheid gesuspendeerde materiaal verhoog word, en dat suurstof konsentrasies verminder word. Die gevolge van indringerplante en ander omgewingsfaktore op akwatiese gemeenskappe is met PRlMER en CANOCO sagteware ontleed. Groepering van Odonata kan gebruik word om op 'n maklike en koste-effektiewe manier om die impak van indringerplante en hul verwydering te bepaal en te monitor. Aanwyserspesies is ook deur middel van die 'Indicator Value' metode geïdentifiseer. Die verspreidingspatrone van invertebraatspesies word deur geografiese en seisoenale effekte oorheers. Dus, terwyl SASS veranderinge in waterkwaliteit kan aantoon, sonder om die oorsaak daarvan te identifiseer, kan aanwyserspesies gebruik word om meer spesifieke impakte deur indringerplantegroei, of indringerverwydering, te bepaal en te monitor. Hulle kan ook gebruik word om gebiede met hoë biodiversiteit vir bewaring of indringerverwydering te identifiseer. Beide studies dui aan dat sensitiewe en endemiese taksa na indringerverwydering verlore gaan, en vervang word met meer geharde, wydverspreide taksa. Herstel van die biota volg op die herstel van die plant gemeenskappe, en die mees sensitiewe of endemiese taksa herstel eers nadat die inheemse plantegroei herstel het. 'n Aantal aanbevelings in verband met die restorasie van waterkwaliteit (veral in terme van die hoeveelheid skaduwee en erosie) en die beskikbaarheid van biotope (veral in terme van inheemse plante) om biodiversiteitsdoelwitte te bereik word gemaak. Die rol van opvanggebied bestuur, voorrang prosedures en lang termyn monitering word ook bespreek.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50440
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