Macroinvertebrate Cycles of Decline and Recovery in Swan Coastal Plain (Western Australia) Wetlands Affected by Drought Induced Acidification
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Natural Sciences / Centre for Ecosystem Management
Management of wetlands influenced by the Gnangara groundwater mound, Western Australia, is becoming increasingly challenging due to an ongoing decline in the regional groundwater table. A number of these groundwater-dependent wetlands have acidified (with adverse effects on the extant macroinvertebrate fauna) due to the oxidation of pyritic sediments. One management option in such cases is artificial augmentation of surface water in order to maintain or reinstate anaerobia in the sediments. This paper documents cycles of macroinvertebrate decline and recovery over 12 years of monitoring in three Gnangara mound wetlands affected by drought-induced acidification, one of which is being artificially augmented. Acidification did not result in a reduction of the total number of macroinvertebrate families present, however, there were clearly identifiable groups of acid-sensitive taxa (amphipods and isopods, ostracods, chydorid and daphnid cladocerans, mayflies, oligochaetes, clams and snails) and acid-tolerant taxa (sandfly larvae, macrothricid cladocerans and water boatmen). In the artificially augmented wetland, the effects of acidification were reversed: acid-sensitive taxa reappeared and acid-tolerant taxa decreased in numbers. Moreover, there were a number of taxa that appeared for the first time since augmentation, and summer family richness increased markedly. This study has shown that artificial augmentation of wetland water levels can be a successful recovery strategy for recently acidified systems, but this will depend on a number of factors, and the ‘recovered’ state will be at least slightly different from the original state.