Wilding, T.K., Brown, E. & Collier, K.J. (2012). Identifying dissolved oxygen variability and stress in tidal freshwater streams of northern New Zealand. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 184(10), 6045-6060.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5874
Tidal streams are ecologically important components of lotic network, and we identify dissolved oxygen (DO) depletion as a potentially important stressor in freshwater tidal streams of northern New Zealand. Other studies have examined temporal DO variability within rivers and we build on this by examining variability between streams as a basis for regional-scale predictors of risk for DO stress. Diel DO variability in these streams was driven by: (1) photosynthesis by aquatic plants and community respiration which produced DO maxima in the afternoon and minima early morning (range, 0.6–4.7 g/m³) as a product of the solar cycle and (2) tidal variability as a product of the lunar cycle, including saline intrusions with variable DO concentrations plus a small residual effect on freshwater DO for low-velocity streams. The lowest DO concentrations were observed during March (early autumn) when water temperatures and macrophyte biomass were high. Spatial comparisons indicated that lowgradient tidal streams were at greater risk of DO depletions harmful to aquatic life. Tidal influence was stronger in low-gradient streams, which typically drain more developed catchments, have lower reaeration potential and offer conditions more suitable for aquatic plant proliferation. Combined, these characteristics supported a simple method based on the extent of low-gradient channel for identifying coastal streams at risk of DO depletion. High-risk streams can then be targeted for riparian planting, nutrient limits and water allocation controls to reduce potential ecological stress.