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Macroinvertebrates, Heavy Metals and PAHs in Urban Watercourses

By G. Beasley and P. Kneale


Good quality stream water and sediments are crucial for the support of healthy stream flora and fauna but urban runoff degrades watercourses leaving a legacy of pollution in the stream sediments. The sediment pollution load influences the development of macroinvertebrates which, as the lowest member of the food chain, influences the whole ecological structure. This review focuses on defining the sources and impacts of zinc, nickel, copper and oil derivative polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contaminants in urban runoff. The impact of pollutants as measured by laboratory, field and modelling procedures are considered. Land use, position and connectivity of the runoff and sediment are seen to have an effect on the ecological integrity of the watercourse but case examples are sparse. The literature indicates that while reduced species diversity has been identified at a number of sites the dynamics are not well understood nor well modelled. These results are compared with field evidence from a study of 62 headwater streams with urban industrial and motorway land uses. From the review and field results it is evident that there is still an important need for process-based field measurements of urban water quality parameters. Forecasting the ecological status of watercourses would seem to benefit from data on sediment chemistry that considers the interaction effects of metals and PAHs

Publisher: School of Geography
Year: 2001
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