Planktonic algae and cyanoprokaryotes as indicators of ecosystem quality in the Mooi River system in the North-West Province, South Africa
An ecologically healthy Mooi River system is important for maintaining the quality of potable water of Potchefstroom and surrounding areas. However, this system is under constant threat from anthropogenic pollution arising from both agricultural and mining activities in its catchment. A survey of planktonic algal and cyanoprokaryote assemblages in Klerkskraal, Boskop and Potchefstroom reservoirs was undertaken during 1999–2000 and 2010–2011. In all three dams, total algal and cyanoprokaryote concentrations were lower during the second survey (2010–2011), suggesting an improvement in ecosystem health. However, results also show a change from a Chrysophyceae-dominated community to one dominated by Bacillariophyceae. Increased numbers of diatom species that usually occur in eutrophic impoundments (Melosira varians, Cyclotella meneghiniana and Aulacoseira granulata) indicate an increase in the trophic status of the reservoirs, especially that of Boskop Dam, a trend mirrored by increases in conductivity as well as phosphorus and ammonium concentrations in all three reservoirs. It can therefore be concluded that although the ecosystem health of the Mooi River system is currently still good, further increases in nutrients such as phosphorus can cause proliferation of problem species (detected in enrichment cultures) and a deterioration of its water quality.
Keywords: Mooi River reservoirs, algal communities, cyanoprokaryotes, water quality