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Algae assemblages and dominant macrophytes in small lowland rivers of Poland in relation to water quality and hydromorphology

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The study was carried out in the Polish Lowlands in the summer periods of 2005-2008. The results from almost half of the sites were very similar and showed that rivers were of moderate quality. Chlorophyta, Cryptophyta and Euglenophyta were common at sites with higher concentrations of phosphorus and nitrates, the presence of modifications, silty river bottom and higher pH. Nuphar lutea or Cladophora agg. were dominant species in the group of macrophytes and macroscopic algae. Diatoms occurred in significantly higher densities at sites with lower concentrations of nutrients, no or minor modifications, sandy river bottom and higher water conductivity, where Elodea canadensis, Glyceria maxima and Sparganium emersum were dominant macrophyte species.
Diagram of CCA ordination for algae and dominant macrophytes in relation to selected environmental factors Abbreviations in CCA diagram: Arrows -Cond. – conductivity, Mud – muddy bed material, pH – pH reaction, Resec. – resection, SRP – soluble reactive phosphates, Reinfor. – reinforcement, Sand – sandy bed material; Grey squares -Cyanoprokaryota: Aphflo -Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, Aphinc – Aphanocapsa incerta, Plalim -Planktolyngbya limnetica; Grey triangles -Bacillariophyceae: Achexi -Achnanthes exigua, Achmin -Achnanthidium minutissimum, Ampova -Amphora ovalis, Aulamb - Aulacoseira ambigua, Aulgra -Aulacoseira granulata, Cocpla -Cocconeis placentula, Cycmen -Cyclotella meneghiniana, Cycoce -Cyclotella ocellata, Cycope -Cyclotella distinguenda, Encmin -Encyonema minutum, Eunbil -Eunotia bilunaris var. bilunaris, Fracap -Fragilaria capucina, Fracro -Fragilaria crotonensis, Gomacu -Gomphonema acuminatum, Gomoli -Gomphonema olivaceum, Hipcap -Hippodonta capitata, Navcin - Navicula cincta, Navcry -Navicula cryptocephala, Navrad -Navicula radiosa, Navtri -Navicula tripunctata, Nitpal -Nitzschia palea, Nitrec - Nitzschia recta, Nitsig -Nitzschia sigmoidea, Pinvir -Pinnularia viridis, Plaele -Placoneis eleginensis, Punrad -Puncticulata radiosa, Stacon - Staurosira construens, Stapin -Staurosirella pinnata, Ulndel -Ulnaria delicatissima var. angustissima, Ulnuln -Ulnaria ulna; Rhombuses -Chlorophyta: Cosreg -Cosmarium regnellii, Descom -Desmodesmus communis, Dessub -Desmodesmus subspicatus, Moncon - Monoraphidium contortum, Mongri -Monoraphidium griffithii, Pedbor -Pediastrum boryanum, Sceacu -Scenedesmus acuminatus, Tetcau -Tetradron caudatum, Tetmin -Tetraedron minimum; Reversed triangles -Cryptophyta: Cryero -Cryptomonas erosa, Cryros -Cryptomonas rostrata, Rhomin -Rhodomonas minuta; Circles -Euglenophyta: Eugpis -Euglena pisciformis, Trahis -Trachelomonas hispida, Travol -Trachelomonas volocina; Rectangles -algae from other groups: Erksub -Erkenia subaequiciliata, Percin -Peridinium cinctum; Black stars – dominant macrophytes and structural algae: CLAAGG -Cladophora agg., ELOCAN -Elodea canadensis, GLYMAX -Glyceria maxima, LEMMIN -Lemna minor, NUPLUT -Nuphar lutea, SPAEME -Sparganium emersum, SPAERE -Sparganium erectum.
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© by PSP Volume 23 – No 2a. 2014 Fresenius Environmental Bulletin
581
ALGAE ASSEMBLAGES AND DOMINANT MACROPHYTES
IN SMALL LOWLAND RIVERS OF POLAND IN RELATION
TO WATER QUALITY AND HYDROMORPHOLOGY
Beata Messyasz1,*, Ryszard Staniszewski2 and Szymon Jusik2
1Department of Hydrobiology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Umultowska 89, 61-614 Poznan, Poland
2 Department of Ecology and Environmental Protection, Poznan University of Life Sciences, Piątkowska 94C, 60-649 Poznan, Poland
ABSTRACT
The study was carried out in the Polish Lowlands in
the summer periods of 2005-2008. The results from almost
half of the sites were very similar and showed that rivers
were of moderate quality. Chlorophyta, Cryptophyta and
Euglenophyta were common at sites with higher concen-
trations of phosphorus and nitrates, the presence of modi-
fications, silty river bottom and higher pH. Nuphar lutea
or Cladophora agg. were dominant species in the group of
macrophytes and macroscopic algae. Diatoms occurred in
significantly higher densities at sites with lower concen-
trations of nutrients, no or minor modifications, sandy river
bottom and higher water conductivity, where Elodea cana-
densis, Glyceria maxima and Sparganium emersum were
dominant macrophyte species.
KEYWORDS: phytoseston, diatoms, water chemistry, macro-
phytes, river modifications
1. INTRODUCTION
The algae communities in rivers are very diverse and
less stable than in lake ecosystems. The number of bio-
seston cells in aquatic ecosystems, such as rivers, play an
important role in the food chain and depends on several
factors, including: season of the year, vegetation structure,
channel substrate, water chemistry, turbidity and, espe-
cially, current velocity [1-4]. For instance, the water turbid-
ity and channel shading may create poor light conditions
and significantly reduce the development of algae biomass.
Several water quality parameters were measured during the
research, such as pH reaction, conductivity, nitrates, solu-
ble reactive phosphates, total phosphorus and hardness.
Physico-chemical parameters of the river waters differ
according to season of the year (temperature, current veloc
* Corresponding author
ity) and thus they influence the biological activity of aquatic
organisms e.g. phytoplankton [5]. Additionally, the river
habitat characteristics (river channel modifications, bot-
tom material) together with the flow type affect the struc-
ture and abundance of microscopic organisms and macro-
phyte structure. In the case of lowland rivers, differences
in physico-chemical conditions during low-flows in sum-
mer are significant, thus considerable shifts in species com-
position are common even in watercourses located in the
same region [3, 5, 6]. Small lowland watercourses are very
diverse in terms of the width and depth, current velocity
and they are often eutrophic, especially when the watershed
area is large, or industrial and agricultural activities are
present.
There are few biological studies of phytoseston in low-
land rivers of Poland, especially concerning the water dis-
charge differences [7, 8], and still little is known about the
impact of small river habitat modifications on planktonic
algae and macrophytes. The main objective of the surveys
was to identify the differences between phytoseston as-
semblages occurring at lowland river sites with different
physico-chemical characteristics and river modifications.
Diatoms were the core of the experiment, while macro-
phytes, chemical parameters and identification of river
habitat modifications were used for description of the river
sites and further comparisons. Seven small rivers (Meszna,
Noteć, Bachorza, Rgilewka, Samica Stęszewska, Główna,
Struga Kwilecka) within the Wielkopolska and Kujawy
regions (west and central Poland) were investigated.
The examined rivers represent lowland watercourses of
Wielkopolska Lakeland and are characterized by moderate to
high nutrient enrichment caused by the agricultural land-
scape, the lake trophic status and wastewater impact. Algae
are valuable indicators of the ecological status of fresh-
waters, particularly rivers, therefore algae assemblages
were studied and the obtained results were supplemented
with the results of the macrophyte survey.
2. MATERIALS AND METHODS
The research was carried out in 2005-2008 at 20 se-
lected river sites situated in central and western Poland,
© by PSP Volume 23 – No 2a. 2014 Fresenius Environmental Bulletin
582
thus the results are to some extent conclusive for lowland
watercourses of Ecoregion 14. The surveyed rivers were
of similar size and depth, but different in terms of water
quality, vegetation cover and the range of river modifica-
tions [7-15]. Water samples and biological data were col-
lected in a warm season: the Meszna River was surveyed in
June-September 2005 and June-September 2006, the Noteć
River in June-September 2005, June-September 2006,
June-September 2007, the Bachorza channel in July-August
2005, the Rgilewka River in July-August 2005, June-
September 2008, the Samica Stęszewska River in July-
September 2005, the Główna River in June-September 2008
and the Struga Kwilecka River in June-September 2007.
The Noteć River is the largest tributary of the Warta
River with the watershed of about 17,300 km2 dominated
by agricultural and rural areas, and several towns. Mu-
nicipal wastewaters are the main threat to river quality.
Both water quality and hydromorphological conditions
varied between sites. The Meszna River with the water-
shed of 705 km2 is also a tributary of the Warta River and
has generally poor water quality. The Bachorza channel
(292 km2) is an old water way located in the agricultural
landscape. The Rgilewka River (594 km2 watershed) is a
typical lowland river with the dominance of agricultural
areas and meadows. The Samica Stęszewska River (about
183 km2) is situated in the Wielkopolska province and its
low water quality is mostly due to a high level of nutrients
and poor oxygen conditions. The Główna River (73 km2)
is a tributary of the Warta River and the last kilometers
run through the city of Poznań. The Struga Kwilecka with
moderately eutrophic waters is an outflow from Lake
Kwileckie.
Phytoseston samples were collected at 20 sites of
seven rivers: the Meszna River (site A – profile Kąty), the
Noteć River (B, N – Łysek, D, E – Mchówek, F –
Katarzyna, O, P – Kalina, R – Dzióbin, S, T – Lucynowo),
the Bachorza channel (C – Ujma Mała), the Rgilewka
River (G, H, I, J – Grzegorzew), the Samica Stęszewska
River (K – Krąplewo), the Główna River (L, M – Wier-
zenica) and the Struga Kwilecka River (U – Kwilcz) (Fig. 1).
The identification of species from particular groups of
algae was carried out based on current taxonomical books
of phycology [16-24 and others]. Species richness was
described as a number of algal taxa in each sample. For
quantitative analysis of phytoseston, the Kolkwitz sedi-
mentation chambers were used and algae cells were the
main counting units. The algae biovolume (biomass) was
calculated from the number of cells and the volume of
species [25, 26].
The macrophyte survey was conducted along 100 m
stretches using the Macrophyte Method for River As-
sessment. This method is currently the official monitoring
approach for rivers in Poland The survey includes a list of
species and estimated vegetation cover. The presence of
each species was recorded with their percentage cover
using the following nine-point scale: < 0.1%, 0.1 1%, 1
2.5%, 2.5 5%, 5 10%, 10 25%, 25 50%, 50 75%
and > 75% [27].
FIGURE 1 - Sketch map of surveyed sites.
Assessment of water quality was made using two al-
gae indices: PSI Specific Pollution Sensitivity Index [28]
and GDI Generic Diatom Index [29]. The ranges of PSI
and GDI scores are presented in Table 1. The evenness
index J (the range from 0 to 1) was expressed with the
Shannon-Weaver diversity index. Furthermore, selected
water quality parameters were examined using standard
methods: pH and conductivity – electrometrically, soluble
reactive phosphates the Ascorbic Acid Method, total
phosphorus the Acid Persulfate Digestion Method, ni-
trates the Cadmium Reaction Method, water hardness –
visual rapid tests. River and river valley modifications were
described using terms from River Habitat Survey meth-
odology [30, 31].
TABLE 1 - Evaluation of water quality using PSI and GDI.
Water quality PSI GDI
high
good
moderate
poor
bad
>17
15-17
12-15
8-12
<8
>17
14-17
11-14
8-11
<8
Canonical ordination analysis for relating the biologi-
cal data (taxonomic composition of algae and macrophytes)
to the environmental variables were carried out using
CANOCO for Windows version 4.5 [32]. The appropriate
type of analysis (CCA Canonical Correspondence Analy-
sis) was chosen to analyze the biological data by DCA
(Detrended Correspondence Analysis) and the length of the
gradient. Preliminary DCA on the biological data revealed
that the gradient length was more than 4 SD (the standard
deviation) indicating that the biological data exhibited
unimodal responses to underlying environmental variables,
which justified the use of unimodal multivariate methods.
Only algae species with high frequency in the examined
material were included in the statistical analysis, while
species with low frequency (below 30%) were excluded
to avoid the effect of uncertainty in the calculations. The
© by PSP Volume 23 – No 2a. 2014 Fresenius Environmental Bulletin
583
statistical significance of the relationship between the bio-
logical data and the physical and chemical parameters of
water was evaluated using the Monte Carlo permutation
test (499 permutations) [32]. The abbreviations used for
algae and macrophyte species names corresponded to the
first three letters of the Latin generic name and the first
three letters of the species name.
3. RESULTS
There were 215 identified algae species (86 diatoms,
72 green algae, 30 cyanobacteria and 27 taxa of algae from
other taxonomical groups) and only 29 species were com-
mon for all seven investigated rivers. Species richness during
the study period was low and ranged from 21 to 84 species.
The lowest number of identified taxa, equal to 21 (13 dia-
toms, 4 green algae, 3 cyanobacteria and 1 cryptophyte),
was observed in the Noteć River (site Łysek, N). The high-
est number of identified taxa was found in the Główna
River (site L) where as many as 84 species (48 diatoms,
19 green algae, 9 blue-green algae and 8 species from
other groups) were recorded. The taxonomical dominance
of diatoms was found at each site. The mean values of the
evenness biodiversity index were rather high and oscillated
between 0.35 and 0.82. The highest value of the evenness
index was observed in the Noteć (site T) and Główna
River (L). The lowest value of the evenness index and the
lowest species diversity (only 21 taxa) of algae were ob-
served in the Noteć River (site N).
A total of 86 species of diatoms were identified in the
investigated rivers (Table 2). From all of the phytoseston
species found in the studied rivers, only Cocconeis pla-
centula Ehr., Puncticulata radiosa (Lemm.) Håkan. and
Ulnaria ulna (Nitzsch) Compère occurred at every site.
Characteristic diatom species were not found in the Meszna,
Bachorza and Rgilewka rivers, while Caloneis fontinalis
(Grun.) Lange – Bertalot & Reich., Encyonema elginense
(Hust.) D.G. Mann, Eunotia arcubus Nörpel & Lange-
Bertalot, Meridion circulare Ag. in the Notec River,
Craticula cuspidata (Kütz.) Mann in the Samica Steszewska
River and Asterionella formosa Hass, Diatoma vulgaris
Bory occurred only in Struga Kwilecka. Moreover, Ca-
loneis silicula (Ehr.) Cleve, Encyonema affine Metz. &
Kram., C. turgidula Grun., Epithemia adnata (Kütz.)
Bréb., E. zebra var. saxonica (Kütz.) Grunow, Gyrosigma
acuminatum (Kütz.) Rabenhorst, G. attenuatum (Kütz.)
Rabenhorst and Nitzschia frustulum (Kütz.) Grun. were
found only in the Główna River.
Most of the analyzed water chemical parameters had
their maximum values at sites with the dominance of Am-
phora ovalis and Gomphonema olivaceum (Table 2). More-
over, high conductivity supported the abundant occurrence
of Encyonema minutum, Staurosira construens, Hippo-
donta capitata and Nitzschia recta. These species, like
Ulnaria delicatissima var. angustissima, were also tolerant
of high concentration of phosphates and nitrates. Compared
to the list of other diatoms in Table 2, Achnanthidium
minutissimum was a characteristic species of a low trophic
status with less nutrient-rich conditions.
TABLE 2 - Mean±SD (and weighted average of value) of physico-chemical parameters of water, characterized the most common diatom
species. N – number of river sites
Conductivity Total
phosphorus Phosphates Nitrates Total
hardness
Carbonate
hardness
No. Diatom species N pH reaction
[mS·cm-1] [mg P·dm-3][mg PO
43-·dm-3] [mg N-NO3 ·dm-3] [mg CaCO3 ·dm-3] [mg CaCO3 ·dm-3]
1. Achnanthidium minutissimum 16 7.30±0.32
(7.18)
1.165±1.059
(0.769)
0.64±0.45
(0.58)
1.10±1.01
(1.02) 0.35±0.45 (0.24) 305±65 (262) 179±51 (143)
2. Amphora ovalis 15 7.32±0.37
(7.40)
1.391±1.209
(1.274)
0.71±0.49
(0.85)
1.07±1.05
(1.54) 0.41±0.45 (0.64) 314±64 (304) 192±46 (179)
3. Aulacoseira granulata 11 7.34±0.36
(7.67)
1.408±1.206
(0.951)
0.69±0.46
(0.48)
1.14±1.16
(1.11) 0.38±0.44 (0.46) 304±46 (328) 182±47 (175)
4. Cocconeis placentula 20 7.33±0.36
(7.37)
1.183±1.102
(0.887)
0.63±0.46
(0.73)
0.99±0.95
(1.00) 0.35±0.41 (0.40) 305±61 (300) 186±49 (176)
5. Cyclotella ocellata 15 7.43±0.37
(7.47)
1.203±1.085
(0.665)
0.55±0.45
(0.40)
1.12±1.04
(0.96) 0.36±0.39 (0.30) 319±60 (335) 193±51 (220)
6. Cyclotella distinguenda 13 7.33±0.37
(7.29)
1.055±1.015
(0.813)
0.58±0.44
(0.76)
1.03±1.09
(1.66) 0.31±0.41 (0.42) 287±48 (262) 176±48 (155)
7. Encyonema minutum 11 7.30±0.31
(7.29)
1.618±1.341
(1.048)
0.64±0.39
(0.71)
1.05±0.53
(1.01) 0.34±0.40 (0.61) 308±47 (297) 177±50 (154)
8. Gomphonema olivaceum 10 7.24±0.33
(7.28)
1.766±1.329
(1.140)
0.74±0.42
(0.90)
1.06±0.58
(1.27) 0.35±0.41 (0.32) 330±70 (390) 189±48 (207)
9. Hippodonta capitata 11
7.38±0.36
(7.24)
1.319±1.254
(1.417)
0.54±0.45
(0.73)
0.75±0.60
(0.94) 0.43±0.38 (0.57) 310±39 (303) 195±48 (174)
10. Nitzschia recta 11 7.28±0.30
(7.12)
1.351±1.284
(1.878)
0.65±0.44
(0.51)
0.90±0.64
(0.94) 0.38±0.38 (0.15) 294±49 (287) 180±48 (185)
11. Puncticulata radiosa 20 7.33±0.36
(7.42)
1.183±1.102
(1.489)
0.63±0.46
(0.58)
0.99±0.95
(1.00) 0.35±0.41 (0.34) 305±61 (327) 186±49 (203)
12. Staurosira construens 14 7.38±0.39
(7.44)
1.421±1.249
(1.651)
0.67±0.49
(0.62)
1.02±1.06
(1.10) 0.45±0.45 (0.44) 307±44 (317) 195±42 (211)
13. Staurosirella pinnata 16 7.31±0.38
(7.33)
1.265±1.219
(0.911)
0.58±0.42
(0.53)
0.75±0.56
(0.61) 0.30±0.33 (0.29) 292±49 (289) 182±46 (178)
14. Ulnaria delicatissima var. angustissima 15 7.24±0.30
(7.16)
1.338±1.234
(0.966)
0.60±0.42
(0.84)
0.88±0.58
(0.97) 0.17±0.19 (0.13) 307±68 (309) 183±49 (176)
15. Ulnaria ulna 20 7.33±0.36
(7.31)
1.183±1.102
(0.949)
0.63±0.46
(0.76)
0.99±0.95
(0.99) 0.35±0.41 (0.49) 305±61 (293) 186±49 (188)
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584
TABLE 3 - Relative biomass (%) of dominant algae taxa in phytoseston, total biomass of algae (mg·dm-3) and total coverage of the macro-
phytes (%) in surveyed river sites
Site code
Dominant phytoseston taxa Algae
group A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U
Aulacoseira ambigua Dia 18
Aulacoseira granulata Dia 19
Ceratium hirundinella Din 12
Cocconeis placentula Dia 8 14 43 24 41 12 12 12 16
Cryptomonas erosa Cry 9
Cryptomonas ovata Cry 26 22
Cyanodictyon sp. Cya 62 23
Cyclotella meneghiniana Dia 16
Cyclotella ocellata Dia 18
Euglena limnophila Dia 31 27 27 17
Jaaginema geminatum Eug 15
Nitzschia recta Dia 21 9 25 25
Pediastrum boryanum Dia 12
Pinnularia viridis Dia 11
Planktolyngbya limnetica Cya 10
Puncticulata radiosa Dia 14 16
Staurosira construens Chl 34 28 19
Staurosirella pinnata Dia 14
Ulnaria ulna Cya 11
Ulothrix zonata Chl 13 14
Total biomass of algae in phytoseston [mg·dm-3]
7.5 4.4 0.8 6.0 4.6 40.9 6.8 8.8 5.8 4.5 8.6 19.2 18.2 2.0 7.7 8.2 3.1 1.6 0.7 1.8
Total coverage of the macrophytes [%]
11.3 105.8 99.3 30.6 30.6 79.3 6.7 16.1 19.1 19.1 89.8 6.8 6.8 105.1 15.4 43.3 71.5 75.0 71.5 6.4
(Algae groups: Chl – green algae, Cry – cryptophytes, Cya – cyanobacteria, Dia – diatoms, Din – dinoflagellates, Eug – euglenoids)
The dominant community was composed of 20 spe-
cies (11 diatoms, 3 cyanobacteria, 2 green algae, 2 crypto-
phytes, 1 euglenoid, 1 dinoflagellate). Only Cocconeis pla-
centula Ehr. dominated at most sites (Table 3). The highest
concentration of phytoseston biomass was above 40 mg·dm-3
and was observed in the Noteć River (F). At the same time,
the lowest phytoseston biomass was recorded mainly in the
Bachorza River (C) and the Noteć River (T). Large biomass
diversity was found within single rivers, e.g. the biomass in
the Noteć River at the F site was 40.86 mg·dm-3, while at
the T site only 0.66 mg·dm-3 (Table 3). The structure of
phytoseston communities was dominated by diatoms and
green algae (mainly small Chlorococcales) at all study sites.
The total cover of macrophytes at the surveyed river sites
varied between 6.4% (Struga Kwilecka, site U) and 105.8%
(Noteć, site B). At two surveyed sites (B and N), the cover
of macrophytes was higher than 100% (Table 3). This was
caused by a very strong development of several layers of
vegetation (emergent macrophytes, submerged and free
floating). Lemna minor was the most common species,
identified at 11 sites (C-F, H-M, R). Its cover ranged from
1.75% to 62.5%. Another very common species was
Glyceria maxima, which was found at 8 sites (F-J, N, R-
S), and its cover was within the range of 1.75-37.5%. At
four sites, both species occur in large numbers in the
Noteć River (F and R) 37.5% and 17.5%; in the
Rgilewka River (I, J) 7.5%.
Based on the PSI and GDI indices, the ecological
status of the studied sites was very diverse (Table 4). It
varied from high to poor (PSI: 16 in the Meszna River;
11-17 in the Noteć River, 11-15 in the Noteć River, 15 in
the Bachorza and Samica Stęszewska rivers, 15-16 in the
Rgilewka River, 13 in the Główna River, 14 in Struga
Kwilecka, GDI: 16 in the Meszna, Bachorza and Samica
Stęszewska rivers, 13-17 in the Noteć, 10-12 in the Noteć,
15-16 in the Rgilewka and Główna, 13 in Struga Kwilecka).
TABLE 4 - Biological indices using diatoms to assess the ecological
status of rivers (PSI - Specific Pollution Sensitivity Index; GDI -
Generic Diatom Index.
Site
code
PSI Ecological status
PSI
GDI Ecological status
GDI
A 16 Good 16 Good
B 16 Good 17 High
C 15 Good 16 Good
D 17 High 15 Good
E 17 High 16 Good
F 15 Good 16 Good
G 15 Good 16 Good
H 16 Good 15 Good
I 16 Good 15 Good
J 15 Good 15 Good
K 15 Good 16 Good
L 13 Moderate 15 Good
M 13 Moderate 16 Good
N 12 Moderate 11 Moderate
O 11 Poor 10 Poor
P 13 Moderate 12 Moderate
R 11 Poor 11 Moderate
S 15 Good 14 Good
T 15 Good 14 Good
U 14 Moderate 13 Moderate
Results of the Monte Carlo test for the studied rivers
showed that the observed differences in the algae species
structure is not accidental but is significantly related to
environmental factors (F = 8.33; p = 0.002; number of
permutations = 499). The first two axes explain 47.3% of
the total variability of relations between species and envi-
ronmental factors (λ1 = 0.425, λ2 = 0.273) (Fig. 2). Micro-
© by PSP Volume 23 – No 2a. 2014 Fresenius Environmental Bulletin
585
scopic algae from Chlorophyta, Cryptophyta and Eugleno-
phyta were common at modified sites (resection, reinforce-
ment) with higher concentrations of nutrients (nitrates,
phosphates), silty river bottom and higher pH (Fig. 2). In
the case of macrophytes, Nuphar lutea was the dominant
species or Cladophora agg. as a representative of macro-
scopic algae. At river sites characterized by: lower concen-
trations of biogens, no or minor modifications, sandy river
bottom and higher water conductivity Bacillariophyceae
were the most common group of algae (Fig. 2). Elodea
canadensis, Glyceria maxima and Sparganium emersum
were the dominant species among macrophytes.
4. DISCUSSION
The total number of algae taxa identified in all samples
was 215. The phytoplankton species richness was low (21–
55; the average of 44) in the rivers with under-developed
aquatic flora as compared to the average number of 55–84
algae taxa per sample in rivers with a large number of
macrophytes. The Główna River was the exception from
68 to 84 species of algae were found in the phytoseston.
Typically, the blue-green and green algae were found in
the slow-flowing waters, while diatoms dominated in rivers
with a rapid current. Although pennate forms were most
FIGURE 2 - Diagram of CCA ordination for algae and dominant macrophytes in relation to selected environmental factors
Abbreviations in CCA diagram:
Arrows - Cond. – conductivity, Mud – muddy bed material, pH – pH reaction, Resec. – resection, SRP – soluble reactive phosphates, Reinfor. –
reinforcement, Sand – sandy bed material;
Grey squares - Cyanoprokaryota: Aphflo - Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, Aphinc – Aphanocapsa incerta, Plalim - Planktolyngbya limnetica;
Grey triangles - Bacillariophyceae: Achexi - Achnanthes exigua, Achmin - Achnanthidium minutissimum, Ampova - Amphora ovalis, Aulamb -
Aulacoseira ambigua, Aulgra - Aulacoseira granulata, Cocpla - Cocconeis placentula, Cycmen - Cyclotella meneghiniana, Cycoce - Cyclotella
ocellata, Cycope - Cyclotella distinguenda, Encmin - Encyonema minutum, Eunbil - Eunotia bilunaris var. bilunaris, Fracap - Fragilaria capucina,
Fracro - Fragilaria crotonensis, Gomacu - Gomphonema acuminatum, Gomoli - Gomphonema olivaceum, Hipcap - Hippodonta capitata, Navcin -
Navicula cincta, Navcry - Navicula cryptocephala, Navrad - Navicula radiosa, Navtri - Navicula tripunctata, Nitpal - Nitzschia palea, Nitrec -
Nitzschia recta, Nitsig - Nitzschia sigmoidea, Pinvir - Pinnularia viridis, Plaele - Placoneis eleginensis, Punrad - Puncticulata radiosa, Stacon -
Staurosira construens, Stapin - Staurosirella pinnata, Ulndel - Ulnaria delicatissima var. angustissima, Ulnuln - Ulnaria ulna;
Rhombuses - Chlorophyta: Cosreg - Cosmarium regnellii, Descom - Desmodesmus communis, Dessub - Desmodesmus subspicatus, Moncon -
Monoraphidium contortum, Mongri - Monoraphidium griffithii, Pedbor - Pediastrum boryanum, Sceacu - Scenedesmus acuminatus, Tetcau - Tetrad-
ron caudatum, Tetmin - Tetraedron minimum;
Reversed triangles - Cryptophyta: Cryero - Cryptomonas erosa, Cryros - Cryptomonas rostrata, Rhomin - Rhodomonas minuta;
Circles - Euglenophyta: Eugpis - Euglena pisciformis, Trahis - Trachelomonas hispida, Travol - Trachelomonas volocina;
Rectangles - algae from other groups: Erksub - Erkenia subaequiciliata, Percin - Peridinium cinctum;
Black stars – dominant macrophytes and structural algae: CLAAGG - Cladophora agg., ELOCAN - Elodea canadensis, GLYMAX - Glyceria
maxima, LEMMIN - Lemna minor, NUPLUT - Nuphar lutea, SPAEME - Sparganium emersum, SPAERE - Sparganium erectum.
© by PSP Volume 23 – No 2a. 2014 Fresenius Environmental Bulletin
586
frequent, centric forms were often more conspicuous eco-
logically, e.g. Aulacoseira and Cyclotella. Taxa with the
highest frequency included: Achnanthidium minutissimum,
Amphora ovalis, Cocconeis placentula, Puncticulata ra-
diosa, Ulnaria ulna, Monoraphidium contortum, Plank-
tolyngbya limnetica and Tetraëdron minimum. It appears
that differences in the phytoplankton variables between
the investigated rivers are mainly related to changes in the
water chemistry and physical features of a given river.
The results also indicate that the data on algae and
macrophytes can be used to predict some habitat features.
In addition, the quality of water at a given point of the
river is also affected by the catchment area situation and
habitat factors found in the upper section of the river. At
one side of the gradient, populations of algae in the phy-
toseston community can intensively develop on account
of habitat conditions, while at the other end, algae tend to
move with the water current. This often contributes to
smaller diversification of algae communities than observed
in lakes [5, 6]. Simultaneously, algal communities are char-
acterized by high dynamics of seasonal changes [33] and
rapid response to changes in the environment [34], which
sometimes makes it difficult to interpret the results.
The composition of phytoplankton assemblages was
determined, as well as the contribution of particular algae
groups to the total quantity and biomass. Based on the total
biomass of the summer phytoseston community, some simi-
larities were found between certain rivers. The analysis
indicated that the following species occurred with signifi-
cant biomass in all the rivers: Cocconeis placentula, Punc-
ticulata radiosa, Staurosira construens, Staurosirella pin-
nata, Planctolyngbya limnetica, Desmodesmus communis,
D. subspicatus, Scenedesmus acuminatus, Pediastrum
boryanum, Monoraphidium contortum and Tetraëdron
minimum. All algae species whose populations built the
phytoseston biomass belong to cosmopolitan taxa and are
characteristic of eutrophic waters [5, 35]. The related re-
search on the relationship between planktonic diatom com-
munities and environmental variables in 10 lakes of the Salt
Lake Basin in Turkey were conducted by Akbulut and
Dügel [36]. The main water chemistry variables influenc-
ing the species composition of planktonic diatoms were
found to be total nitrogen, sulfate and Secchi depth [35].
Five common and most abundant diatom species charac-
teristic of eutrophic ecosystems were found when compar-
ing the results: Amphora ovalis, Aulacoseria granulata,
Cyclotella ocellata, Ulnaria ulna and Gomphonema oliva-
ceum. The optimum level of total nitrogen in lakes ranged
within 2.64-3.58 mg N·dm-3, while nitrate levels in the
rivers were in the range of 0.35-0.45 mg N-NO3-·dm-3.
Diatoms preferred permanently mixed habitats and
therefore, the optimum of their development occurs mainly
in the autumn-spring season. Diatoms (40% or more), green
algae and cyanobacteria were the dominant components of
the phytoseston community in the euphotic zone of both
investigated rivers. Reynolds [5] reported that centric dia-
toms dominate mostly in the phytoseston community in
rivers. In this study, the river phytoseston was also domi-
nated by Cocconeis placentula – an epiphytic and eutro-
phic taxon which was more abundant in the Samica
Stęszewska river and the Noteć River. Centric diatoms
Puncticulata radiosa (Notec site F, Rgilewka site G) and
Cyclotella meneghiniana (Rgilewka site H) also occurred
in large numbers. It has been previously reported that the
peak of diatom concentrations in the late summer was
observed in the rivers with a raised water level [5, 6, 37].
Values of the water quality assessment indices of dia-
tom communities determined for all the rivers confirm
good or moderate quality of their water and, in most cases,
indicate the moderate eutrophic status. The observed values
of PSI (from 11 to 17) and GDI (from 10 to 17) indices for
20 examined river sites indicated that the river water qual-
ity is good or moderate. A similar range of variation in the
PSI index was observed in the Greek rivers [38]. Algae
(mainly diatom) assemblages were distributed continuously
along gradients of water pH and nutrients. The SPI index
was one of the indices recommended by Kwadrans et al.
[39] for monitoring the rivers in Poland. Other studies [6,
37, 40] have confirmed that this index best matches the
water quality in European countries.
Multivariate analyzes are frequently and successfully
applied in the analysis of relationships between different
groups of algae and environmental factors [36, 41, 42].
Multivariate analysis between certain physico-chemical
river characteristics and algae groups in the studied rivers
revealed the relationship between the abundance of Chloro-
phyta, Cryptophyta and Euglenophyta and higher concentra-
tions of nitrates and phosphates, the presence of modifica-
tions (resection, reinforcement), silty river bottom and
higher pH. Such a correlation confirms the indicative role
of mixotrophic forms of algae (cryptophytes and eugle-
noids), which are characteristic of eutrophic water bodies,
rich in nutrients and organic matter [43-44]. At the same
time, Nuphar lutea was the dominant macrophyte species
at the study sites, or sometimes the macroscopic alga
Cladophora agg. The abundance of Nuphar lutea was often
correlated with the significant presence of other taxa such
as Glyceria maxima, Elodea canadensi, Sparganium erec-
tum and Hydrocharis morsus-ranae, especially in the Noteć
River. Taxa like N. lutea, S. erectum and G. maxima are
typical for waters rich in nutrients. At some sites of the
Noteć River, e.g. S and T, the Nupharo-Nymphaeetum
community was identified.
The obtained results demonstrated a higher contribu-
tion and stronger attachment of Bacillariophyceae to the
river sites characterized by lower concentrations of nutri-
ents, no or minor modifications, sandy river bottom and
higher water conductivity. The relationships between dia-
toms and the sandy river bottom was stronger due to the
complicated texture of this substratum, which takes up
more space for benthos colonization, therefore supports more
organisms which can supply the euphotic zone as a result
of the water turbulence. Moreover, Elodea canadensis,
Glyceria maxima and Sparganium emersum were ob-
© by PSP Volume 23 – No 2a. 2014 Fresenius Environmental Bulletin
587
served as dominant macrophytes. At such river sites, the
nutrient tolerant species, like Lemna minor and Phrag-
mites australis, were also found. At the sites situated on
the Noteć and Rgilówka rivers, the Glycerietum maximae
community (nutrient tolerant) was identified, and in the
Samica Stęszewska and Noteć rivers –the Elodeetum cana-
densis communities.
In conclusion, the results of this study indicate that
diatoms’ communities were dominant in the rivers with a
rapid water current, while cyanobacteria and green algae
in slow-flowing rivers. The results of classifications,
based on the physical and chemical measurements, and the
trophic and saprobic diatom spectrum, as well as hydro-
morphological features and the aquatic vegetation struc-
ture data, indicated that the waters of the Noteć River sites
are characterized by poorer quality compared to the other
studied rivers.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This study was supported by the Polish Ministry of
Education and Science grant (Project number: N N305
3637 33).
The authors have declared no conflict of interest.
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Received: July 29, 2013
Revised: October 14, 2013
Accepted: October 18, 2013
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Beata Messyasz
Department of Hydrobiology
Adam Mickiewicz University
Umultowska 89
61-614 Poznan
POLAND
E-mail: messyasz@amu.edu.pl
FEB/ Vol 23/ No 2a/ 2014 – pages 581 - 588
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