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North-West University (2018)

Spatial changes in algal assemblages promoted by water quality in the Sabie River catchment

Erasmus, A.

Titre : Spatial changes in algal assemblages promoted by water quality in the Sabie River catchment

Auteur : Erasmus, A.

Université de soutenance : North-West University

Grade : Master of Science in Environmental Sciences 2018

The Sabie River catchment forms part of the bigger Inkomati Catchment Management Area under the management of the Inkomati Usuthu Catchment Management Agency, in the Mpumalanga Province and covers about 6 320 square kilometres. The headwaters of the Sabie River and its tributaries such as the Sand River and Marite River arise from the upper Drakensberg escarpment, flowing eastwards into the Lowveld through drastically changing topography, through the Kruger National Park (KNP) into Mozambique where it becomes part of the Inkomati River system. The water of the Sabie River system is vital to the economy of the communities in the area and plays a role in agriculture and ecotourism. It is imperative to monitor and manage the Sabie-Sand sub-catchment’s water quality as it is also important to the ecosystem health of the KNP. The Inkomati River system is an international shared watercourse with Mozambique and therefore South Africa has an obligation to meet the international water quality requirements in the Mpumalanga area, with a further obligation to ensure high-quality water sharing between the three co-basin areas. This study proposed to measure the relationship between water quality and spatial and temporal changes in the algal composition of the Sabie River and its main tributaries namely the Marite and Sand Rivers as well as in the Inyaka Dam. Observing algal assemblages has been important in environmental assessments both to indicate changes in environmental conditions that might impair or threaten ecosystem health as well as to determine if algae themselves are causing problems. Therefore, during this study, the changes in the algal assemblages were determined with specific regard to genera diversity, as well as changes in assemblages during different environmental conditions experienced during the study period. The water quality and algal assemblages of the Inyaka Dam, which is situated in the Marite River, was also included in this study as it is the main water source of the Inyaka Water Supply Scheme and therefore does not only impact on the Sabie River system but directly influences the communities depending on it as a potable water resource. This study was a collaborative project between the North-West University (NWU), Rand Water, Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency (IUCMA) and South African National Parks (SANParks). Sampling commenced in January 2016 and continued until July 2017.


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