CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Marine and Freshwater Research   
Marine and Freshwater Research
Journal Banner
  Advances in the aquatic sciences
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Structure
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Research Fronts
Virtual Issues
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Submit Article
Author Instructions
Open Access
For Referees
General Information
Review an Article
Referee Guidelines
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates
Library Recommendation

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with us
blank image
facebook twitter logo LinkedIn


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 65(12)

Benthic algal biomass and assemblage changes following environmental flow releases and unregulated tributary flows downstream of a major storage

Alec W. Davie A B D and Simon M. Mitrovic A C

A Centre for Environmental Sustainability, School of Environment, University of Technology, Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia.
B Present Address: Sydney Catchment Authority, PO Box 323, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia.
C NSW Office of Water, PO Box 3720, Parramatta, NSW 2124, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: alec.davie@sca.nsw.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 65(12) 1059-1071 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF13225
Submitted: 26 August 2013  Accepted: 23 March 2014   Published: 1 October 2014

PDF (994 KB) $25
 Export Citation

A large dam reducing the magnitude of flows regulates the Severn River, Australia. Environmental flows (EFs) are designed to increase the magnitude of flow and improve ecological outcomes such as reducing filamentous algal biomass and re-setting algal succession. The effectiveness of EF releases to alter benthic algal assemblages is poorly understood. We examined benthic algal biomass and assemblage structure at two cobble-dominated riffle sites downstream of Pindari Dam, before and after two EFs. Both EFs had discharges of ~11.6 m3 s–1 (velocity of ~0.9 m s–1). Neither EF reduced benthic algal biomass, and sometimes led to increases, with density of some filamentous algae increasing (Stigeoclonium and Leptolyngbya). An unregulated flow from a tributary between the two sites increased discharge to 25.2 m3 s–1 (velocity of ~1.2 m s–1), decreasing biomass and density of filamentous algae. The similarity in flow velocities between scouring and non-scouring events suggests that thresholds may exist and/or suspended sediments carried from unregulated tributaries may contribute to reduce algal biomass. Identifying velocities needed to reduce algal biomass are useful. Accordingly, EFs with flow velocities ~1.2 m s–1 may achieve this in river cobble-dominated riffle sections dominated by filamentous algae. Lower flow velocities of <0.9 m s–1 may result in no change or an increase in filamentous algae.

Additional keywords: cobble, diatoms, filamentous, riffle, river, scour, stimulus, velocity.


Ács, E., and Kiss, K. T. (1993). Effects of the water discharge on periphyton abundance and diversity in a large river (River Danube, Hungary). Hydrobiologia 249, 125–133.
CrossRef |

Anderson, M. J. (2001). A new method for non-parametric multivariate analysis of variance. Austral Ecology 26, 32–46.

Anderson, M. J., Gorley, R. N., and Clarke, K. R. (2008). ‘PERMANOVA+ for PRIMER: Guide to Software and Statistical Methods.’ (PRIMER-E: Plymouth, UK.)

APHA (American Public Health Association) (1995). ‘Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Waste Water.’ 19th edn (American Public Health Association: Washington, DC, USA.)

Arthington, A. H., and Pusey, B. J. (2003). Flow restoration and protection in Australian rivers. River Research and Applications 19, 377–395.
CrossRef |

Biggs, B. J. F. (1995). The contribution of flood disturbance, catchment geology and land use to the habitat template of periphyton in stream ecosystems. Freshwater Biology 33, 419–438.
CrossRef |

Biggs, B. J. F. (1996). Patterns in benthic algae of streams In ‘Algal Ecology: Freshwater Benthic Ecosystems’. (Eds R. J. Stevenson, M. L. Bothwell and R. L. Lowe) pp. 31–56. (Academic Press: San Diego, CA)

Biggs, B. J. F., and Close, M. E. (1989). Periphyton biomass dynamics in gravel bed rivers: the relative effects of flows and nutrients. Freshwater Biology 22, 209–231.
CrossRef | CAS |

Biggs, B. J. F., and Gerbeaux, P. (1993). Periphyton development in relation to macro-scale (geology) and micro-scale (velocity) limiters in two gravel-bed rivers, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 27, 39–53.
CrossRef |

Biggs, B. J. F., and Hickey, C. W. (1994). Periphyton responses to a hydraulic gradient in a regulated river in New Zealand. Freshwater Biology 32, 49–59.
CrossRef |

Biggs, B. J. F., and Smith, R. A. (2002). Taxonomic richness of stream benthic algae: effects of flood disturbance and nutrients. Limnology and Oceanography 47, 1175–1186.
CrossRef | CAS |

Biggs, B. J. F., and Stokseth, S. (1996). Hydraulic habitat suitability for periphyton in rivers. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 12, 251–261.
CrossRef |

Biggs, B. J. F., and Thomsen, H. A. (1995). Disturbance in stream periphyton to perturbations in shear stress: time to structural failure and differences in community resistance. Journal of Phycology 31, 233–241.
CrossRef |

Biggs, B. J. F., Goring, D. G., and Nikora, V. I. (1998). Subsidy and stress responses of stream periphyton to gradients in water velocity as a function of community growth form. Journal of Phycology 34, 598–607.
CrossRef |

Biggs, B. J. F., Smith, R. A., and Duncan, M. J. (1999). Velocity and sediment disturbance of periphyton in headwater streams: biomass and metabolism. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 18, 222–241.
CrossRef |

Blenkinsopp, S. A., and Lock, M. A. (1994). The impact of storm-flow on river biofilm architecture. Journal of Phycology 30, 807–818.
CrossRef |

Bourassa, N., and Cattaneo, A. (1998). Control of periphyton in Laurentian streams (Quebec). Journal of the North American Benthological Society 17, 420–429.
CrossRef |

Bunn, S. E., and Arthington, A. (2002). Basic principles and ecological consequences of altered flow regimes for aquatic biodiversity. Environmental Management 30, 492–507.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Burns, A., and Walker, K. F. (2000). Biofilms as food for decapods (Atyidae, Palaemonidae) in the River Murray, South Australia. Hydrobiologia 437, 83–90.
CrossRef |

Chester, H., and Norris, R. (2006). Dams and flow in the Cotter River, Australia: effects on instream trophic structure and benthic metabolism. Hydrobiologia 572, 275–286.
CrossRef |

Clarke, K. R. (1993). Nonparametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure. Australian Journal of Ecology 18, 117–143.
CrossRef |

Clarke, K. R., and Gorley, R. N. (2006). ‘PRIMER v6: User Manual/Tutorial.’ (PRIMER-E: Plymouth, UK.)

Clarke, K. R., and Warwick, R. M. (2001). ‘Change in Marine Communities: an Approach to Statistical Analysis and Interpretation.’ (Plymouth Marine Laboratory: Plymouth, UK.)

Collier, K. J. (2002). Effects of flow regulation and sediment flushing on instream habitat and benthic invertebrates in a New Zealand river influenced by a volcanic eruption. River Research and Applications 18, 213–226.
CrossRef |

Cortez, D. P., Growns, I. O., Mitrovic, S. M., and Lim, R. P. (2012). Effects of a gradient in river regulation on the longitudinal trends in water quality and benthic algal and macroinvertebrate assemblages in the Hunter River, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 63, 494–504.
CrossRef | CAS |

Davey, G. W., Doeg, T. J., and Blyth, J. D. (1987). Responses of the aquatic macroinvertebrate communities to dam construction on the Thompson River, southeastern Australia. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 1, 71–84.
CrossRef |

Davie, A. W. (2013). The influence of flow on benthic assemblages in the Severn River, New South Wales, Australia. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Technology, Sydney.

Davie, A. W., Mitrovic, S. M., and Lim, R. P. (2012). Succession and accrual of benthic algae on cobbles of an upland river following scouring. Inland Waters 2, 89–100.
CrossRef |

Davis, J. A., and Barmuta, L. A. (1989). An ecologically useful classification of mean and near-bed flows in streams and rivers. Freshwater Biology 21, 271–282.

Downes, B. J., Lake, P. S., Glaister, A., and Webb, J. A. (1998). Scales and frequencies of disturbances: rock size, bed packing and variation among upland streams. Freshwater Biology 40, 625–639.
CrossRef |

Downes, B. J., Entwisle, T. J., and Reich, P. (2003). Effects of flow regulation on disturbance frequencies and in-channel bryophytes and macroalgae in some upland streams. River Research and Applications 19, 27–42.
CrossRef |

Duncan, S. W., and Blinn, D. W. (1989). Importance of physical variables on the seasonal dynamics of epilithic algae in a highly shaded canyon stream. Journal of Phycology 25, 455–461.
CrossRef |

Dyer, F. J., and Thoms, M. C. (2006). Managing river flows for hydraulic diversity: an example of an upland regulated gravel-bed river. River Research and Applications 22, 257–267.
CrossRef |

Flinders, C. A., and Hart, D. D. (2009). Effects of pulsed flows on nuisance periphyton growths in rivers: a mesocosm study. River Research and Applications 25, 1320–1330.
CrossRef |

Francoeur, S. N., and Biggs, B. J. F. (2006). Short-term effects of elevated velocity and sediment abrasion on benthic algal communities. Hydrobiologia 561, 59–69.
CrossRef |

Gell, P. A., Sonneman, J. A., Reid, M. A., Illman, M. A., and Sincock, A. J. (1999). ‘An Illustrated Key to Common Diatom Genera from Southern Australia.’ CRC Guide No. 26. (Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology: Albury, NSW.)

Grimm, N. B., and Fisher, S. G. (1989). Stability of periphyton and macroinvertebrates to disturbance by flash floods in a desert stream. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 8, 293–307.
CrossRef |

Growns, I. O., and Growns, J. E. (2001). Ecological effects of flow regulation on macroinvertebrate and periphytic diatom assemblages in the Hawkesbury–Nepean River, Australia. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 17, 275–293.
CrossRef |

Horner, R. R., and Welch, E. B. (1981). Stream periphyton development in relation to current velocity and nutrients. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 38, 449–457.
CrossRef |

Horner, R. R., Welch, E. B., Seeley, M. R., and Jacoby, J. M. (1990). Responses of periphyton to changes in current velocity, suspended sediment and phosphorus concentration. Freshwater Biology 24, 215–232.
CrossRef |

Hötzel, G., and Croome, R. (1999). ‘A Phytoplankton Methods Manual for Australian Freshwaters.’ Occasional Paper Series 22/99. (Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation: Canberra.)

Humphrey, K. P., and Stevenson, R. J. (1992). Responses of benthic algae to pulses in current and nutrients during simulations of subscouring spates. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 11, 37–48.
CrossRef |

Jowett, I. G., and Biggs, D. J. (1997). Flood and velocity effects on periphyton and silt accumulation in two New Zealand rivers. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 31, 287–300.
CrossRef |

Kingsford, R. T. (2000). Ecological impacts of dams, water diversions and river management on floodplain wetlands in Australia. Austral Ecology 25, 109–127.
CrossRef |

Lowe, R. L., Guckert, J. B., Belanger, S. E., Davidson, D. H., and Johnson, D. W. (1996). An evaluation of periphyton community structure and function on tile and cobble substrata in experimental stream mesocosms. Hydrobiologia 328, 135–146.
CrossRef |

Matthaei, C. D., Uehlingher, U., Meyer, E. I., and Frutiger, A. (1996). Recolonization by benthic invertebrates after experimental disturbance in a Swiss prealpine river. Freshwater Biology 35, 233–248.
CrossRef |

McMahon, T. A., and Finlayson, B. L. (1995). Reservoir system management and environmental flows. Lakes and Reservoirs: Research and Management 1, 65–76.
CrossRef |

McMahon, T. A., and Finlayson, B. L. (2003). Droughts and anti-droughts: the low flow hydrology of Australian Rivers. Freshwater Biology 48, 1147–1160.
CrossRef |

Minshall, G. W. (1978). Autotrophy in stream ecosystems. Bioscience 28, 767–771.
CrossRef |

NSW DWE (Department of Water and Energy) (2009). ‘Water Sharing Plan. NSW Border Rivers Regulated River Water Source. Background Document.’ DWE 09_135. (NSW Department of Water and Energy: Sydney.)

Patten, D. T., Harpman, D. A., Voita, M. I., and Randle, T. J. (2001). A managed flood on the Colorado River: background, objectives, design, and implementation. Ecological Applications 11, 635–643.
CrossRef |

Peterson, C. G. (1996). Response of benthic algal communities to natural physical disturbances. In ‘Algal Ecology – Freshwater Benthic Ecosystems’. (Eds R. J. Stevenson, M. L. Bothwell and R. L. Lowe.) pp. 375–403. (Academic Press: San Diego, CA.)

Peterson, C. G., and Stevenson, R. J. (1992). Resistance and resilience of lotic algal communities: importance of disturbance timing and current. Ecology 73, 1445–1461.
CrossRef |

Raven, J. A. (1992). How benthic macroalgae cope with flowing freshwater: resource acquisition and retention. Journal of Phycology 28, 133–146.
CrossRef |

Richter, B. D., and Thomas, G. A. (2007). Restoring environmental flows by modifying dam operations. Ecology and Society 12, 12.

Robinson, C. T., and Uehlinger, U. (2003). Using artificial floods for restoring river integrity. Aquatic Sciences 65, 181–182.
CrossRef |

Ryder, D. S. (2004). Response of biofilm metabolism to water level variability in a regulated floodplain river. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 23, 214–223.

Ryder, D. S., Watts, R. J., Nye, E., and Burns, A. (2006). Can flow velocity regulate epixylic biofilm structure in a regulated floodplain river. Marine and Freshwater Research 57, 29–36.
CrossRef |

Sonneman, J. A., Sincock, A. J., Fluin, J., and Reid, M. A., Newall P., Tibby J. and Gell P. A. (2000). ‘An Illustrated Guide to Common Stream Diatom Species from Temperate Australia.’ CRC Guide No. 33. (Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology: Albury, NSW.)

Stevenson, R. J. (1984). How currents on different sides of substrates in streams affect mechanisms of benthic algal accumulation. Internationale Revue der Gesamten Hydrobiologie und Hydrographie 69, 241–262.
CrossRef |

Stevenson, R. J. (1990). Benthic algal community dynamics in a stream during and after a spate. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 9, 277–288.
CrossRef |

Stevenson, R. J. (1996). The stimulation of drag and current. In ‘Algal Ecology – Freshwater Benthic Ecosystems’. (Eds R. J. Stevenson, M. L. Bothwell and R. L. Lowe.) pp. 321–340. (Academic Press: San Diego, CA.)

Stevenson, R. J., and Glover, R. (1993). Effects of algal density and current on ion transport through periphyton communities. Limnology and Oceanography 38, 1276–1281.
| CAS |

Sturt, M. M., Jansen, M. A. K., and Harrison, S. S. C. (2011). Invertebrate grazing and riparian shade as controllers of nuisance algae in a eutrophic river. Freshwater Biology 56, 2580–2593.
CrossRef |

Tett, P., Gallegos, C., Kelly, M. G., Hornberger, G. M., and Cosby, B. J. (1978). Relationships among substrate, flow, and benthic microalgal pigment density in the Mechums River, Virginia. Limnology and Oceanography 23, 785–797.
CrossRef | CAS |

Thorp, J. H., and Delong, M. D. (2002). Dominance of autochthonous autotrophic carbon in food webs of heterotrophic rivers. Oikos 96, 543–550.
CrossRef |

Townsend, S. A., and Padovan, A. V. (2005). The seasonal accrual and loss of benthic algae (Spirogyra) in the Daly River, an oligotrophic river in tropical Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 56, 317–327.
CrossRef | CAS |

Tsai, J. W., Chuang, Y. L., Wu, Z. Y., Kuo, M. H., and Lin, H. J. (2014). The effects of storm-induced events on the seasonal dynamics of epilithic algal biomass in subtropical mountain streams. Marine and Freshwater Research 65, 25–38.

Uehlinger, U., Kawecka, B., and Robinson, C. T. (2003). Effects of experimental floods on periphyton and stream metabolism below a high dam in the Swiss Alps (River Spöl). Aquatic Sciences 65, 199–209.
CrossRef |

Walker, K. F., Sheldon, F., and Puckridge, J. T. (1995). An ecological perspective on dryland rivers. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 11, 85–104.
CrossRef |

Ward, J. V., and Stanford, J. A. (1983). The serial discontinuity concept of lotic ecosystems. In ‘Dynamics of Lotic Ecosystems’. (Eds T. D. Fontaine and S. M. Bartell.) pp. 29–42. (Ann Arbor Science Publishing: Ann Arbor, MI.)

Watts, R. J., Ryder, D. S., Burns, A., Wilson, A. L., Nye, E. R., Zander, A., and Dehaan, R. (2006). Responses of biofilms to cyclic releases during a low flow period in the Mitta Mitta River, Victoria, Australia. Report to the Murray–Darling Basin Commission. Institute for Land Water and Society Report Number 24, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

Watts, R. J., Allan, C., Bowmer, K. H., Page, K. J., Ryder, D. S., and Wilson, A. L. (2009). Pulsed flows: a review of environmental costs and benefits and best practice. Waterlines report no. 16. Australian Government National Water Commission, Canberra.

Welch, E. B., Jacoby, J. M., Horner, R. R., and Seeley, M. R. (1988). Nuisance biomass levels of periphytic algae in streams. Hydrobiologia 157, 161–168.
CrossRef | CAS |

Wellnitz, T., and Poff, N. L. (2006). Herbivory, current velocity and algal regrowth: how does periphyton grow when the grazers have gone? Freshwater Biology 51, 2114–2123.

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2016