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Mar Environ Res. 2007 Oct;64(4):514-23. Epub 2007 May 6.

MBACI sampling of an episodic disturbance: stormwater effects on algal epifauna.

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  • 1School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.


Whilst it has been well established that stormwater and associated contaminants negatively impact the quality of recipient waters, the ecological effects of individual stormwater pulses in marine environments are relatively unknown. In this study, the impacts of stormwater outfalls upon water quality and epifaunal invertebrates inhabiting the alga Sargassum linearifolium are assessed through an MBACI sampling program. Water quality and the abundance of mobile algal epifauna were recorded at three control sites and three impact sites every 10-12 weeks during dry weather and opportunistically within 24h of large rain events (>50 ml rainfall in 24h) and again 4d after the rain event. Sampling took place during two periods over two separate years and this included four large rainfall events. Following rainfall, salinity dropped rapidly at impact sites close to stormwater outfalls, whilst turbidity increased. Declines in salinity at control sites were slight and turbidity did not differ to 'before' periods. The abundance of epifaunal gastropods and polychaetes were reduced at impact sites 24h after rain events, but not control sites. The abundance of copepods, amphipods and ostracods, however, were reduced at both control and impact sites for up to 4d following rainfall. Reductions of these taxonomic groups could not be attributed to stormwater outfalls. Whilst short-term impacts of stormwater runoff were identified for some faunal groups, impacts were not identified for the majority. Instead, effects were harbour-wide (i.e. at control and impact sites), probably in response to the physical disturbance of heavy seas associated with large rain events.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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