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Water SA

versão On-line ISSN 1816-7950
versão impressa ISSN 0378-4738

Water SA vol.34 no.1 Pretoria Jan. 2008


On the use of diatom-based biological monitoring Part 1: A comparison of the response of diversity and aut-ecological diatom indices to water quality variables in the Marico-Molopo River catchment



PA de la ReyI; L van RensburgI; A VoslooII

ISchool for Environmental Science and Development, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
IISchool of Biological and Conservation Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa





Two main approaches have been followed in using diatoms as bio-indicators in the past few decades namely species diversity indices and aut-ecological indices. This study, based on 102 water quality and epilithic diatom samples from the Crocodile Groot-Marico catchment in South Africa, evaluated both types of indices by establishing how well they reflect changes in water quality. It was found that less of the variation in diversity indices could be attributed to changes in water quality variables than was the case for the aut-ecological indices. Furthermore it was found that species diversity indices tend to be higher at intermediate levels of pollution, rather than at low levels of pollution.

Keywords: diatoms; Bacillariophyceae; bioindicators; species diversity indices; water quality; aut-ecological indices


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Received 30 October 2006;
Accepted in revised form 28 November2007.