SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.34 issue1 author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand



Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • On index processSimilars in Google


Water SA

On-line version ISSN 1816-7950
Print version ISSN 0378-4738

Water SA vol.34 n.1 Pretoria Jan. 2008


On the use of diatom-based biological monitoring Part 2: A comparison of the response of SASS 5 and diatom indices to water quality and habitat variation



PA de la ReyI; H RouxII; L van RensburgI; A VoslooIII

ISchool for Environmental Science and Development, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
IIDepartment of Agriculture Conservation and Environment, North West Province, South Africa
IIISchool of Biological and Conservation Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa





Due to the fact that South Africa is a water-scarce country, integrated water resource management based on sound information is essential. Bio-indicators have provided valuable information for water resource management in recent years and have enjoyed increasing popularity. Bio-indicators especially stepped to the forefront with the realisation that aquatic eco-systems are not only a source of water but also deliver several goods and services, as well as being essential for industrial growth and quality of life of many South Africans. This study aimed to quantitatively test two kinds of biomonitoring tools namely diatom-based (SPI and BDI) and macro-invertebrate based (SASS 5) in order to assess their applicability in South African River systems; and whether any additional information can be gained by using the two tools in tandem. The results showed that diatom indices are affected more by changes in water quality than SASS 5, while SASS 5 displayed a higher dependency on habitat quality, as measured by IHAS, than the diatom indices. It is therefore suggested that the two indices be utilised as complementary indicators for integrated assessment of river health.

Keywords: diatoms; Bacillariophyceae; bioindicators; SASS 5; species diversity indices; water quality


"Full text available in PDF"



ASHTON PJ, PATRICK MJ, MACKAY HM and WEAVER AVB (2005) Integrated biodiversity concepts with good governance to support water resource management in South Africa. Water SA 31 (4) 449-456.         [ Links ]

CEMAGREF (1982) Etude Des Méthodes Biologiques Quantitatives D'appréciation De La Qualité Des Eaux. Rapport Division Qualité des Eaux Lyon. Agence financiè de Bassin Rhone-Méditerarée. Corse, Pierre-Bénite. 28 pp.         [ Links ]

CHUTTER FM (1998) Research on the Rapid Biological Assessment of Water Quality Impacts in Streams and Rivers. WRC Report No 422/1/98. Water Research Commission. Pretoria, South Africa.         [ Links ]

DALLAS HF (1997) A preliminary evaluation of aspects of SASS (South African Scoring System) for the rapid bioassessment of water quality in rivers, with particular reference to the incorporation of SASS in a national biomonitoring programme. S. Afr. J. Aquat. Sci. 23 (1) 79-94.         [ Links ]

DALLAS HF (2004) Seasonal variability of macroinvertebrate assemblages in two regions of South Africa: implications for aquatic bio-assessment. S. Afr. J. Aquat. Sci. 29 (2) 173-184.         [ Links ]

DAVIES B and DAY J (1998) Vanishing Waters. University of Cape Town Press. University of Cape Town. Rondebosch. 487 pp.         [ Links ]

DE LA REY PA, TAYLOR JC, LAAS A, VAN RENSBURG L and VOSLOO A (2004) Determining the possible application value of diatoms as indicators of general water quality: A comparison with SASS 5. Water SA 30 (3) 325-332.         [ Links ]

DE LA REY PA, VAN RENSBURG L and VOSLOO A (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. Water SA 34 (1) 53-60.         [ Links ]

DICKENS CWS and GRAHAM M (2002) The South African Scoring System (SASS) Version 5: Rapid bio-assessment method for rivers. S. Afr. J. Aquat. Sci. 27 1-10.         [ Links ]

EEKHOUT S, BROWN CA and KING JM (1996) National Biomoni-toring Programme for Riverine Ecosystems: Technical Considerations and Protocol for the Selection of Reference and Monitoring Sites. NBP Report Series No. 3. Institute for Water Quality Studies, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Pretoria.         [ Links ]

GRATWICKE B (1999) The effect of season on a biotic water quality index: a case study of the Yellow Jacket and Mazowe Rivers, Zimbabwe. S. Afr. J. Aquat. Sci. 24 (2) 24-35.         [ Links ]

HAIR JF (Jr), ANDERSON RE, TATHAM RE and BLACK W (1998) Multivariate Data Analysis. Prentice-Hall, New Jersey. 730 pp.         [ Links ]

HARDING WR, ARCHIBALD CGM and TAYLOR JC (2005) The relevance of diatoms for water quality assessment in South Africa: A position paper. Water SA 31 (1) 1- 8.         [ Links ]

KARR JR and DUDLEY DR (1981) Ecological perspectives on water quality goals. Environ. Manage. 5 (1) 55-68.         [ Links ]

KEMPER NP (2001) RVI: Riparian Vegetation Index. WRC Report No 850/3/01, Water Research Commission, Pretoria, South Africa.         [ Links ]

KLEYNHANS CJ (1999) The development of a fish index to assess the biological integrity of South African rivers. Water SA 25 (3) 265-270.         [ Links ]

KRAMMER K and LANGE-BERTALOT H (1986-1991) Bacillariophyceae. Süβwasserflora von Mitteleuropa 2 (1-4). Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg. Berlin.         [ Links ]

LECOINTE C, COSTE M and PRYGIEL, J (1993) "Omnidia": Software for taxonomy, calculation of diatom indices and inventories management. Hydrobiol. 269/270 509-513.         [ Links ]

LENOIR A and COSTE M (1996) Development of a practical diatom index of overall water quality applicable to the French National Water Board network. In: Whitton, BA and E Rott (eds.) Use of Algae for Monitoring Rivers II. Institut fur Botanik. Universitat Innsbruck. 29-43.         [ Links ]

MALONEY KO and FEMINELLA JW (2006) Evaluation of single-and multi-metric benthic macroinvertebrate indicators of catchment disturbance over time at the Fort Benning Military Installation, Georgia, USA Ecological. Ecol. Indic. 6 469-484.         [ Links ]

MAUL JD, FARRIS JL, MILAM CD, COOPER CM, TESTA III S and FELDMAN DL (2004) The influence of stream habitat and water quality on macroinvertebrate communities in degraded streams of northwest Mississippi. Hydrobiol. 518 79-94.         [ Links ]

McMILLAN PH (1998) An Integrated Habitat Assessment System (IHAS v2), for the Rapid Biological Assessment of Rivers and Streams. A CSIR research project, Number ENV-P-I 98132 for the Water Resources Management Programme, CSIR.         [ Links ]

OLLIS DJ, BOUCHER C, DALLAS HF and ESLER K (2006) Preliminary testing of the integrated habitat assessment system (IHAS) for aquatic macroinvertebrates. S. Afr. J. Aquat. Sci. 31 (1) 1-14.         [ Links ]

PILLSBURY AF (1981) The salinity of rivers. Sci. Am. 245 (1) 54-65.         [ Links ]

RIVER HEALTH PROGRAMME (2005) State-of-Rivers Report: Monitoring and Managing the Ecological State of Rivers in the Crocodile (West) Marico Water Management Area. Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Pretoria, South Africa. 29 pp.         [ Links ]

ROUX DJ (1997) National Aquatic Ecosystem Biomonitoring Programme: Overview of the Design Process and Guidelines for Implementation. NAEBP Report Series No. 6. Institute for Water Quality Studies, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Pretoria, South Africa.         [ Links ]

TAYLOR JC (2006) Personal communication. School for Environmental Sciences and Development, North-West University, South Africa. 3 August 2006.         [ Links ]

TAYLOR JC, DE LA REY PA and VAN RENSBURG L (2005) Recommendations for the collection, preparation and enumeration of diatoms from riverine habitats for water quality monitoring in South Africa. S. Afr. J. Aquat. Sci. 30 (1) 65-75.         [ Links ]

TAYLOR JC, HARDING WR and ARCHIBALD CGM (2007a) An Illustrated Guide to Some Common Diatom Species from South Africa. WRC Report No TT 282/07. Water Research Commission. Pretoria, South Africa.         [ Links ]

TAYLOR JC, JANSE VAN VUUREN MS and PIETERSE AJH (2007b) The application and testing of diatom-based indices in the Vaal and Wilge Rivers, South Africa. Water SA 33 (1) 51-60.         [ Links ]

TAYLOR JC, KRIEL GP and VAN RENSBURG L (2006) The Use of Diatoms for Monitoring Water Quality in Urban Streams. Unpublished report, submitted to Gauteng Nature Conservation July 2006.         [ Links ]

TAYLOR JC, PRYGIEL J, VOSLOO A and DE LA REY PA (2007c) Can diatom-based pollution indices be used for biomonitoring in South Africa? A case study of the Crocodile West and Marico water management area. Hydrobiol. 592 455-464.         [ Links ]

TOWNSEND CR, HILDREW AG and SCHOFIELD K (1987) Persistence of stream invertebrate communities in relation to environmental variability. J. Anim. Ecol. 57 597-613.         [ Links ]

WALMSLEY RD (2000) Perspectives on Eutrophication of Surface Waters: Policy/Research Needs in South Africa. WRC Report No KV129/00. Water Research Commission, Pretoria, South Africa.         [ Links ]



Africa Geo-Environmental Services,
PO Box, 19460, Potchefstroom 2522
South Africa
+27 18 297 6588;
Fax: +27 18 297 4813

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

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License