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Wallum Freshwater Biogeographic Province

Wallum Freshwater Biogeographic Province – Water quality

Perennial streams

Wet season (Jan-Mar) Average temperature (20°) Temperature varies along a NE-SW gradient Evaporation exceeds rainfall Humic stained water Phosphorus limiting water Nitrogen limiting water Undercut banks present Low turbidity Acidic water Low water temperature High ratio of sodium and chloride Low relief ratio Acidic soils Nitrogen limiting soils Phosphorus limiting soils Large woody debris cover (low) Infiltration exceeds rainfall Groundwater fed system Emergent macrophyte growth forms dominant Sand Cemented "coffee rock" Perched aquifer Regional aquifer Trees, Shrubs, Grasses, Sedges and reeds Trees, Shrubs, Grasses, Sedges and reeds

Chain-of-pond streams

Wet season (Jan-Mar) Average temperature (20°) Temperature varies along a NE-SW gradient Low relief ratio Evaporation exceeds rainfall Humic stained water Hydrologically connected Hydrologically connected Hydrologically disconnected Hydrologically disconnected Phosphorus limiting water Nitrogen limiting water Acidic water High ratio of sodium and chloride Low water temperature Emergent macrophyte growth forms dominant Low turbidity Below ground flow Large woody debris cover (low) Infiltration exceeds rainfall Acidic soils Nitrogen limiting soils Phosphorus limiting soils Sand Grasses Trees, Shrubs, Grasses, Sedges and reeds

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The water quality of Wallum’s aquatic ecosystems may be considered one of its defining characteristics: largely acidic, nutrient deficient, with low conductivity[5][4]. Water quality assessments in Wallum FBP have predominantly focused on standing water bodies, such as lakes and wetlands. There are notable similarities between the running and standing water systems of Wallum, owing to shared water sources (regional and perched aquifers). Consequently, this research was used to assist the characterisation of Wallum riverine systems.

Sandy substrate and limited large riparian vegetation cover in the FBP result in low turbidity, with a mean value of 14 NTU. Water transparency varies across the region, from clear to tannin-stained waters. Transparency in tannin-stained waters is considerably reduced by the presence of dissolved organic acids, largely humic acids derived from leaf litter of the surrounding Melaleuca sp. and Wallum heath[2][3][4][8][1].

The presence of these organic acids is correlated with the lower pH values observed in the FBP[2][3][4][7][8][1].

While the mean pH for the FBP is neutral (7), values range from highly acidic (3.3) to highly alkaline (8.1). The waters of the region are typically low in salinity and conductivity, yet the ionic composition is often similar to sea water[4][8][1].

This dominance of sodium and chloride ions is likely derived from atmospheric supply and is characteristic of weathered coastal environments[6][7][2].

 

 

Mean

SE

Minimum

Maximum

Turbidity (NTU)

14

4

1

108

pH

5.6

0.2

3.3

8.1

 

 

Chain-of-pond streams

The presence of humic acids is more often associated with chain-of-pond streams, but varies across the region. This variation may be associated with the irregular presence of Melaleuca sp. and heath in riparian vegetation. Thermal stratification often occurs within the chain-of-pond streams, resulting from high residence times of the water.

Perennial streams

In contrast, perennial streams often show lower temperatures than surrounding streams, especially in summer, as they are largely fed from groundwater. They rarely demonstrate thermal stratification owing to their faster flow.


References

  1. ^ a b c Arthington, AH, Burton, HB, William, RW & Outridge, PM (1986), 'Ecology of humic and non-humic dune lakes, Fraser Island, with emphasis on the effects of sand infilling in Lake Wabby', Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 37, pp. 743-764, CSIRO.
  2. ^ a b c Bayly, IAE (1964), 'Chemical and biological studies on some acid lakes of east Australian sandy coastal lowlands', Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 15, pp. 56-72, CSIRO.
  3. ^ a b Bayly, IAE, Ebsworth, EP & Fong Wan, H (1975), 'Studies on the lakes of Fraser Island, Queensland', Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 26, pp. 1-13, CSIRO.
  4. ^ a b c d Bowling, LC (1988), 'Optical properties, nutrients and phytoplankton of freshwater coastal dune lakes in south-east Queensland', Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 39, pp. 805-815, CSIRO.
  5. ^ Hadwen, WL, Arthington, AH & Mosisch, TD (2003), 'The impact of tourism on dune lakes on Fraser Island, Australia', Lakes & Reservoirs: Research and Management, vol. 8, pp. 12-26, Wiley.
  6. ^ McNeil, VH, Cox, ME & Preda, M (2005), 'Assessment of chemical water types and their spatial variation using multi-stage cluster analysis, Queensland, Australia', Journal of Hydrology. [online], vol. 310, no. 1-4, pp. 181-200. Available at: Scopus.
  7. ^ a b Outridge, PM, Arthington, AH & Miller, GJ (1989), 'Limnology of naturally acid, oligotrophic dune lakes in subtropical Australia, including chlorophyll-phosphorous relationships', Hydrobiologia, vol. 179, pp. 39-51, Springer.
  8. ^ a b c Timms, BV (1982), 'Coastal dune waterbodies of north-eastern New South Wales', Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 33, pp. 203-222, CSIRO.

Last updated: 22 March 2013

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, Queensland (2013) Wallum Freshwater Biogeographic Province – Water quality, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2024. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/ecology/aquatic-ecosystems-natural/riverine/freshwater-biogeo/wallum/water-quality.html

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