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A comparison of water quality and macroinvertebrate community structure in endorheic depression wetlands and a salt pan in the Gauteng province, South Africa

Burger, M, van Vuren, J. H. J., de Wet, L., Nel, A.
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2019 v.191 no.1 pp. 14
Aeshnidae, Belostomatidae, Ephemeroptera, Hydrophilidae, Notonectidae, aluminum, ammonia, aquatic ecosystems, arid zones, community structure, dry season, guidelines, health effects assessments, industrial effluents, livestock, macroinvertebrates, magnesium, mining, pH, sanitation, seasonal variation, sulfates, surface water, temperature, urbanization, water hardness, water resources, wet season, wetlands, zinc, Australia, Central Africa, South Africa, South America
Depression wetlands (colloquially referred to in South Africa (SA) as pans) are found worldwide and primarily occur in arid regions including North and South America, southern and central Africa and southern and western Australia. Surface water resources in SA, and specifically in Gauteng, are under pressure from urbanisation, poor agricultural practices and untreated mining and industrial effluent. Research of these wetlands will benefit the development of health assessment tools for these unique aquatic resources. The aim of this project was to determine the water quality and macroinvertebrate community structure for each perennial pan during consecutive dry and wet seasons and to establish a possible comparison between these pans that can be used as a baseline for future research on pans. The sampled pans in Gauteng presented higher TDS, Cl and Mg results compared to other South African studies, and similar SO₄ results to pans in the Mpumalanga province. Ammonia, Al and Zn results of all pans through all sampling events exceed the Target Water Quality Range (TWQR) for aquatic ecosystems of the Water Quality Guidelines (WQG) from the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). The water quality from selected systems is suitable for livestock watering based on the DWS TWQR. Macroinvertebrate species of all sampled pans were mostly low water quality tolerant species with a predator dominant community structure. Seasonal variation of species was evident. Macroinvertebrate families found in the wet season include Hydrophilidae, Aeshnidae, Pleiidae, Ephemeroptera, Belostomatidae and Notonectidae. Families found in the dry season include Planaridae, Dysticidae, Hirudinidae and Daphnidae. Graphical representation of ordination analyses with Canoco version 5 (Ter Braak and Šmilauer 2012) indicated that TDS, temperature, pH, sulphates and hardness are strong drivers of the existing macroinvertebrate community in most of the pans.