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Diatoms as an indicator for tile drainage flow in a German lowland catchment

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  • Naicheng Wu, Universität Kiel
  • ,
  • Claas Faber, Universität Kiel, Germany
  • Uta Ulrich, Univerzität Kiel, Germany
  • Nicola Fohrer, Universität Kiel, Germany

Background: The separation of runoff components within a model simulation is of great importance for a successful implementation of management measures. Diatoms could be a promising indicator for tile drainage flow due to their diverse preferences to different aquatic habitats. In this study, we collected diatom samples of 9 sites (4 tile drainage, TD, and 5 river sites, Ri) in a German lowland catchment at a weekly or biweekly time step from March to July 2013 with the aim of testing the suitability of diatoms for tile drainage flow, which is typical for lowland catchment. Results: Planothidium lanceolatum, Ulnaria biceps, and Navicula gregaria dominated in TD sites with relative abundances of 22.2, 21.5, and 10.9%, respectively. For Ri sites, the most abundant species was Navicula lanceolata (20.5%), followed by Ulnaria biceps (12.9%), Cyclotella meneghiniana (9.5%), and Planothidium lanceolatum (9.3%). Compared with Ri sites, TD had a lower diatom density, biomass, species richness, and percentage of Aquatic/Riparian diatoms (AqRi%). However, the proportion of Riparian diatoms (RiZo%) increased at TD. Indicator value method (IndVal) revealed that the two groups (Ri and TD) were characterized by different indicator species. Fifteen taxa, including Cocconeis placentula, Cyclotella meneghiniana, N. lanceolata, and U. biceps, were significant indicators for Ri sites. Planothidium lanceolatum, Achnanthidium minutissimum, and Navicula gregaria were significant indicators for TD sites. Conclusion: A pronounced variation was found in the species lists of diatom community between Ri and TD water body types associated with different indicator species. With respect to hydrograph separation, these findings highlight the suitability of diatoms as an indicator for tile drainage flow. However, spatial and temporal variations of diatoms should be considered in future surveys.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Sciences Europe
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Diatoms, Indicator value method, Runoff components, Tracer

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