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The use of salt dilution gauging techniques: ecological considerations and insights

By P Wood and Alan P. Dykes


The salt dilution (gulp injection) technique is a well established and widely used technique to measure stream discharge, flow velocity and water residence characteristics in small headwater streams. However, the impact of the technique on water quality and instream ecology has been largely ignored in field investigations. A series of experiments were undertaken in a regulated and groundwater-dominated river to examine the effects on aquatic invertebrate drift at high, medium and low discharges. In the groundwater-dominated river, drift significantly increased as a result of the introduction of the saline solution under all flows. Drift increased at the regulated site under low and intermediate flow but not during high flows, probably due to a natural increase in drift associated with spate conditions. Following the application of the saline solution several taxa absent or infrequently occurring in background samples, such as the cased caddisfly, Agapetus fuscipes, were recorded. The wider implications of the technique are discussed in relation to short-term pulsed pollution episodes and the management of riverine ecosystems

Topics: GE
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.1016/s0043-1354(01)00519-x
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