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Sci Total Environ. 2013 Jul 1;456-457:181-95. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.03.093. Epub 2013 Apr 16.

Catchment source contributions to the sediment-bound organic matter degrading salmonid spawning gravels in a lowland river, southern England.

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  • 1ADAS, Pendeford House, Wobaston Road, Wolverhampton WV9 5AP, UK. adrian.collins@adas.co.uk


The ingress of particulate material into freshwater spawning substrates is thought to be contributing to the declining success of salmonids reported over recent years for many rivers. Accordingly, the need for reliable information on the key sources of the sediment problem has progressed up the management agenda. Whilst previous work has focussed on apportioning the sources of minerogenic fine sediment degrading spawning habitats, there remains a need to develop procedures for generating corresponding information for the potentially harmful sediment-bound organic matter that represents an overlooked component of interstitial sediment. A source tracing procedure based on composite signatures combining bulk stable (13)C and (15)N isotope values with organic molecular structures detected using near infrared (NIR) reflectance spectroscopy was therefore used to assess the primary sources of sediment-bound organic matter sampled from artificial spawning redds. Composite signatures were selected using a combination of the Kruskal-Wallis H-test, principal component analysis and GA-driven discriminant function analysis. Interstitial sediment samples were collected using time-integrating basket traps which were inserted at the start of the salmonid spawning season and extracted in conjunction with critical phases of fish development (eyeing, hatch, emergence, late spawning). Over the duration of these four basket extractions, the overall relative frequency-weighted average median (±95% confidence limits) source contributions to the interstitial sediment-bound organic matter were estimated to be in the order: instream decaying vegetation (39±<1%; full range 0-77%); damaged road verges (28±<1%; full range 0-77%); septic tanks (22±<1%; full range 0-50%), and; farm yard manures/slurries (11±<1%; full range 0-61%). The reported procedure provides a promising basis for understanding the key sources of interstitial sediment-bound organic matter and can be applied alongside apportionment for the minerogenic component of fine-grained sediment ingressing the benthos. The findings suggest that human septic waste contributes to the interstitial fines ingressing salmonid spawning habitat in the study area.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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