Changes in the algal composition and water quality of the Sundays River, Karoo, South Africa, from source to estuary
A first survey was done on algae present in the Sundays River from its source to its confluence with the sea. Species found in the upstream sections of the river included indicators of good water quality, but the quality deteriorated downstream with peaks in algal abundance being ascribed to peaks in nutrient concentrations. Cyanobacteria and euglenoids were present in the upper and middle reaches of the river, but were absent downstream. Dinoflagellates became more important downstream, especially in the estuary. Dominant species, reaching high concentrations along the river, included Nitzschia frustulum, Nitzschia capitellata, Carteria klebsii, Chlorella vulgaris and Anabaena species. The presence of the diatom Eolimna comperei is a first record of its occurrence in South Africa. The Sundays River can be described as a brackish, hard water system with high nutrient concentrations in certain sections. The most important contributors to high nutrient concentrations were point sources in the vicinity of towns along the river banks, as well as diffuse sources contributing to high nitrogen concentrations in the fertile Sundays River valley. Increasing salinities were due to pollution, evaporation and agricultural activities in the valley.
Keywords: algae, cyanobacteria, diatoms, indicators, nitrogen, phosphorus, salinity, water chemistry