2 results for Lear, Gavin, Conference poster, 2009

  • The use of whole community bacterial indicators to monitor ecological health, function and variability within stream biofilms

    Lear, Gavin; Boothroyd, IK; Lewis, Gillian (2009-08-30)

    Conference poster
    The University of Auckland Library

    This study describes the extent of variability in biofilm bacterial community structure across a broad range of spatial and temporal scales and assesses whether this may be used as an indicator of stream ecological health and function. A community DNA fingerprinting technique (Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis - ARISA) was used to examine the structure of bacterial communities within freshwater stream biofilms. When compared with macrobenthic invertebrate community assemblages using multi-dimensional scaling techniques, similar broad-scale trends in population structure were revealed between organisms at these different trophic levels. For both communities, spatial variability in community structure was greater between streams than within each site, or compared to temporal variability measured over 1 year. Distance-based redundancy analysis of both bacterial ARISA and macroinvertebrate data estimated that the largest cause of variation in community structure was due to differences in catchment land-use, rather than any single water quality parameter (e.g. ph or ammoniacal nitrogen). Multidimensional scaling of ARISA data also revealed significant differences in community structure between urban, and less impacted stream sites, providing evidence that whole-bacterial communities could be used as an indicator of freshwater ecological health, analogous to the way that macroinvertebrate communities have been used for many years. In conclusion, we propose the analysis of whole bacterial communities as a cost-effective, high throughput alternative indicator of freshwater ecological health.

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  • Ecosystem responses to multiple-stressor gradients: Nutrient and sediment addition to experimental stream channels

    Wagenhoff, A; Matthaei, CD; Lear, Gavin; Lewis, Gillian; Townsend, CR (2009-05-16)

    Conference poster
    The University of Auckland Library

    Agricultural land use can strongly affect stream ecosystems by increasing levels of nutrients and fine sediment cover on the streambed. Knowledge of patterns in ecological responses along gradients of these two stressors will help define thresholds of harm. Leaf breakdown rates, algal and bacterial communities are directly and/or indirectly influenced by nutrient supply and fine sediment cover. To investigate the effects of stressor gradients and their interactions on these biological response parameters, we designed a full-factorial experiment in circular stream-side channels with eight levels each of nutrients (36 to 6900 μg·l-1 DIN, 1.4 to 450 μg·l-1 DRP) and fine sediment (0 to 100 % cover). Algal biomass, bacterial diversity and leaf pack decomposition were determined after three weeks of exposure to both stressors. Algal biomass was significantly higher in channels with lower levels of fine sediment. Bacterial diversity generally increased with increasing nutrient concentrations up to an intermediate nutrient level but then decreased again with the exception of reaching the highest diversity overall at the top nutrient level. Thus, increased levels of nutrients and fine sediment caused major changes to the algal and bacterial communities. In turn, these changes affect other food-web components as well as ecosystem functioning, including decomposition.

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