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Title: Land use effects on water quality, habitat, and macroinvertebrate and diatom communities in African highland streams.
Authors: Dalu, Tatenda.
Mwedzi, Tongayi.
Wasserman, Ryan John.
Madzivanzira, Takudzwa Comfort.
Nhiwatiwa, Tamuka.
Cuthbert, Ross N.
School of Biology and Environmental Sciences
Chinhoyi University of Technology
Rhodes University
South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity
University of Zimbabwe.
Queen's University Belfast
Keywords: Land use.;Diatoms.;Macroinvertebrates.;Community structuring.;Eastern Highlands.;Illegal mining.
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Elsevier
Abstract: Anthropogenic activities have increasingly subjected freshwater ecosystems globally to various pressures. Increasing land use activities have been highly linked to deteriorating freshwater ecosystems and dwindling biodiversity. For sound management and conservation policies to be implemented, relations between land use, environmental, and bi otic components need to be widely documented. To evaluate the impacts of land use on biotic components, this study analyzed the diatom and macroinvertebrate community composition of the Eastern Highlands (Zimbabwe) streams to assess the main spatial diatom and macroinvertebrate community variances and how environmental variables and spa tial factors influence community composition. Diatom and macroinvertebrate sampling was done in 16 streams in protected areas (national parks) and impacted sites (timber plantation and communal areas). Water (pH, phosphorus, and ammonium) and sediment (nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc) and habitat (sub strate embeddedness, and habitat) variables differed significantly with land use. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) showed that the protected area had the best water quality, particularly marked by high pH levels and low phos phorus concentrations among environment types. Heavy metals were high in the communal areas, although mercury was higher in the national park. Significant differences were observed in diatom metrics, specifically dominance andevenness, with no significant differences observed in macroinvertebrate metrics across land uses. Diatoms differed in terms of composition in response to land use. Results provide an important scientific reference for land use optimiza tion and guidance for the formulation of policies to protect freshwater resources in African Highland streams. Manage ment and conservation initiatives in the Eastern Highlands are further recommended as this study detected high levels of mercury in the protected area, implying high levels of illegal mining.
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157346
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