SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.34 issue2 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.2 Pretoria Feb. 2008


Inter-basin water transfer effects on the invertebrates of the Mvuzane River: A test of the SASS rapid biomonitoring protocol to assess the impact of flow modification



SP WeertsI, II; DP CyrusI

ICoastal Research Unit of Zululand, University of Zululand, Private Bag X1001, KwaDlangezwa 3886, South Africa
IICSIR, Natural Resources & the Environment, PO Box 17001, Congella 4013, South Africa





Effects of the transfer of water from the Thukela to the Mvuzane River were investigated using the SASS rapid bioassessment technique and more quantitative methods of guild composition and community analyses. Although the transfer was relatively small (< 1 m3/s) it completely dominated natural flows in the recipient system. SASS monitoring was found to be useful as a rapid, field-based assessment of water quality and can be used to act as a 'red flag' to problems in the future. However, it was not sensitive to changes in the community structure at different sites and was inefficient as a tool to investigate the wider ecological impacts of the transfer scheme, most notably those associated with flow modification. Changes in the invertebrate fauna were most easily explained in terms of the effect of increased flow velocities and volumes on taxa that were classified as 'swimmers' and 'skaters'. Impacts via disruption to trophic pathways cannot be discounted and will most certainly occur with prolonged water transfer.


"Full text available in PDF"



ALLAN JD (1995) Stream Ecology: Structure and Function of Running Waters. Chapman and Hall, London, UK. 388 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 ]

CLARKE KR and WARWICK RM (1994) Change in Marine Communities: An Approach to Statistical Analysis and Interpretation. Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth, UK. 144 pp.         [ Links ]

CUMMINS KW (1996) Ecology and distribution of aquatic insects. In: Merritt RW and Cummins KW (eds.) An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America (3rd edn.). Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. Dubuque. 862 pp.         [ 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. Sth. Afr. J. Aquat. Sci. 23 (1) 79-94.         [ Links ]

DAVIES B and DAY J (1998) Vanishing Waters. UCT Press, Cape Town, South Africa. 487pp.         [ Links ]

DAVIES BR, THOMS M and MEADOR M (1992) An assessment of the ecological impacts of inter-basin water transfers, and their threats to river basin integrity and conservation. Aquat. Conserv: Mar. Freshwater Ecosyst. 2325-349.         [ Links ]

DEPARTMENT OF WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY (1996) South African Water Quality Guidelines. Volume 7: Aquatic ecosystems.         [ Links ]

DICKENS CWS and GRAHAM PM (2002) The South African Scoring System (SASS) Version 5 Rapid Bioassessment Method for Rivers. Afr. J. Aquat. Sci. 27 1-10.         [ Links ]

DOISY K and CF RABENI (2001) Flow conditions, benthic food resources, and invertebrate community composition in a low-gradient stream in Missouri. J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc. 20 (1) 17-32.         [ Links ]

IWR-E (2000) Thukela Mhlathuze Emergency Transfer: Environmental Baseline Study Mvuzane Stream. Report prepared for Mhlathuze Water Amanzi. IWR Environmental, unpublished report.         [ Links ]

KARR JR (1991) Biological integrity: a long-neglected aspect of water resource management. Ecol. Appl. 1 66-84.         [ Links ]

KARR JR (1995) Ecological integrity and ecological health are not the same. In: Schulze P (ed.) Engineering within Ecological Constraints. National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Science, Washington, D.C.         [ Links ]

MACMILLAN PH (1998) An Integrated Habitat Assessment System (IHAS v2), for the Rapid Biological Assessment of Rivers and Streams. CSIR Research Project, ENV-P-I 98132 for the Water Resources Management Programme, CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa. Ii? + 44 pp.         [ Links ]

O'KEEFFE JH and DE MOOR FC (1988) Changes in the physico-chemistry and benthic invertebrates of the Great Fish River, South Africa, following an interbasin transfer of water. Regulated Rivers: Res. Manage. 2 39-55.         [ Links ]

PLAFKIN JL, BARBOUR MT, PORTER KD, GROSS SK and HUGHES RM (1989) Rapid Bioassessment Protocols for Use in Streams and Rivers: Benthic Macroinvertebrates and Fish. United States Environmental Protection Agency Report No. EPA/444/4-89-001. Assessment and Watershed Division, Washington, DC.         [ Links ]

LOWE-MCCONNELL RH (1988) Concluding remarks II: Tropical perspective for future research in river ecology. J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc. 7 (4) 527-529.         [ Links ]

POWER ME, STOUT, RJ, CUSHING CE, HARPER PP, HAUER FR, MATTHEWS WJ, MOYLE PB, STATZNER B and WAIS DE BADGEN IR (1988) Biotic and abiotic controls in river and stream communities. J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc. 7 (4) 456-479.         [ Links ]

RESH VH, BROWN AV, COVICH AP, GURTZ ME, LI HW, MIN-SHALL GW, REICE SR, SHELDON AL, WALLACE JB and RC WISSAR (1988) The role of disturbance in stream ecology. J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc. 7 (4) 433-455.         [ Links ]

RESH VH and JACKSON JK (1993) Rapid assessment approaches to biomonitoring using benthic macroinvertebrates. In: Rosenberg DM and Resh VH (eds.) Freshwater Biomonitoring and Benthic Macro-invertebrates. Chapman and Hall, New York, USA. 195-233.         [ Links ]

STEEDMAN RJ (1994). Ecosystem health as a management goal. J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc. 13 (4) 605-610.         [ Links ]

THIRION C, MOCKE A and R WOEST (1995) Biological Monitoring of Streams and Rivers using SASS4: A User Manual. Institute for Water Quality Studies Report No. N0000/00/REQ/1195. Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Pretoria, South Africa. 46 pp.         [ Links ]

VANNOTE RL, MINSHALL GW, CUMMINS KW, SEDELL JR and CE CUSHING (1980) The river continuum concept. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 37130-137.         [ Links ]

WELCOMME RL (1988) Concluding remarks I: On the nature of large tropical rivers, floodplains, and future research directions. J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc. 7 (4) 525-526.         [ Links ]



+27 31 242-2356
Fax: +27 31 261-2509

Received 30 August 2001
Accepted in revised form 10 January 2008

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