Researchers in India have demonstrated that microscopic aquatic creatures could be used as the ecological equivalent of a canary in a coalmine for assessing inland freshwater lakes and ponds. Writing in the World Review of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development the team explains how diatoms respond badly to pollutants and sewage contamination.
Bijaya Kumar Padhi, Jnanendra Rath, and Pratap Kumar Padhy of the Visva-Bharati University, in Santiniketan, India, have looked at the ecological responses of diatoms to pollution and nutrient enrichment, caused by domestic and municipal sewage, in five freshwater ponds. Absent diatom species were present in some heavily polluted lakes, while raised levels of nutrients boost numbers of other species. They suggest that a Biological Index for Diatoms could be used as a simple biological method for monitoring water quality that avoids the need for sophisticated chemical analysis.
Rapid urbanization and economic development have resulted in unfavorable changes in the hydrology and ecology of freshwater systems, which are felt most acutely in the developing world. The researchers explain that the remediation and protection of freshwater ecosystems is increasingly important but water quality management requires reliable long-term data on water quality and how remediation work affects the water. Moreover, information about natural, baseline, conditions in undisturbed ponds, lakes and rivers is needed against which polluted bodies of water undergoing remediation might be gauged.
Natural changes in environmental conditions, such as flow rate, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, and food resources exert direct control on the population dynamics of aquatic organisms, which gives rise to characteristic biological communities within different ecosystems. However, pollution and other human activities also disturb these community profiles significantly and so can provide such a measure.
|Contact: Pratap Kumar Padhy|