Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Agriculture versus wastewater pollution as drivers of macroinvertebrate community structure in streams


Burdon, F J; Munz, Nicole A; Reyes, M; Focks, Andreas; Joss, A; Räsänen, K; Altermatt, Florian; Eggen, R I L; Stamm, C (2019). Agriculture versus wastewater pollution as drivers of macroinvertebrate community structure in streams. Science of the Total Environment, 659:1256-1265.

Abstract

Water pollution is ubiquitous globally, yet how the effects of pollutants propagate through natural ecosystems remains poorly understood. This is because the interactive effects of multiple stressors are generally hard to pre- dict. Agriculture and municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are often major sources of contaminants for streams, but their relative importance and the role of different pollutants (e.g. nutrients or pesticides) are largely unknown. Using a ‘real world experiment’ with sampling locations up- and downstream of WWTPs, we studied how effluent discharges affected water quality and macroinvertebrate communities in 23 Swiss streams across a broad land-use gradient.
Variation partitioning of community composition revealed that overall water quality explained approximately 30% of community variability, whereby nutrients and pesticides each independently explained 10% and 2%, respectively. Excluding oligochaetes (which were highly abundant downstream of the WWTPs) from the analyses, resulted in a relatively stronger influence (3%) of pesticides on the macroinvertebrate community composition, whereas nutrients had no influence. Generally, the macroinvertebrate community composition downstream of the WWTPs strongly reflected the upstream conditions, likely due to a combination of efficient treatment pro- cesses, environmental filtering and organismal dispersal. Wastewater impacts were most prominently by the Saprobic index, whereas the SPEAR index (a trait-based macroinvertebrate metrics reflecting sensitivity to pesticides) revealed a strong impact of arable cropping but only a weak impact of wastewater.
Overall, our results indicate that agriculture can have a stronger impact on headwater stream macroinvertebrate communities than discharges from WWTP. Yet, effects of wastewater-born micropollutants were clearly quanti- fiable among all other influence factors. Improving our ability to further quantify the impacts of micropollutants requires highly-resolved water quality and taxonomic data with adequate spatial and temporal sampling. These improvements would help to better account for the underlying causal pathways that drive observed biological responses, such as episodic contaminant peaks and dispersal-related processes.

Abstract

Water pollution is ubiquitous globally, yet how the effects of pollutants propagate through natural ecosystems remains poorly understood. This is because the interactive effects of multiple stressors are generally hard to pre- dict. Agriculture and municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are often major sources of contaminants for streams, but their relative importance and the role of different pollutants (e.g. nutrients or pesticides) are largely unknown. Using a ‘real world experiment’ with sampling locations up- and downstream of WWTPs, we studied how effluent discharges affected water quality and macroinvertebrate communities in 23 Swiss streams across a broad land-use gradient.
Variation partitioning of community composition revealed that overall water quality explained approximately 30% of community variability, whereby nutrients and pesticides each independently explained 10% and 2%, respectively. Excluding oligochaetes (which were highly abundant downstream of the WWTPs) from the analyses, resulted in a relatively stronger influence (3%) of pesticides on the macroinvertebrate community composition, whereas nutrients had no influence. Generally, the macroinvertebrate community composition downstream of the WWTPs strongly reflected the upstream conditions, likely due to a combination of efficient treatment pro- cesses, environmental filtering and organismal dispersal. Wastewater impacts were most prominently by the Saprobic index, whereas the SPEAR index (a trait-based macroinvertebrate metrics reflecting sensitivity to pesticides) revealed a strong impact of arable cropping but only a weak impact of wastewater.
Overall, our results indicate that agriculture can have a stronger impact on headwater stream macroinvertebrate communities than discharges from WWTP. Yet, effects of wastewater-born micropollutants were clearly quanti- fiable among all other influence factors. Improving our ability to further quantify the impacts of micropollutants requires highly-resolved water quality and taxonomic data with adequate spatial and temporal sampling. These improvements would help to better account for the underlying causal pathways that drive observed biological responses, such as episodic contaminant peaks and dispersal-related processes.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics
25 citations in Web of Science®
28 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

1 download since deposited on 26 Jul 2019
0 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Environmental Engineering
Physical Sciences > Environmental Chemistry
Physical Sciences > Waste Management and Disposal
Physical Sciences > Pollution
Uncontrolled Keywords:Aquatic ecosystems, Chemical pollution, Land use, Multiple stressors, Micropollutants, Pesticides
Language:English
Date:1 April 2019
Deposited On:26 Jul 2019 13:04
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 11:00
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0048-9697
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.372

Download

Closed Access: Download allowed only for UZH members