THE ECOLOGY OF MICROBES IN THE RIPARIAN ZONE OF GROUNDWATER DEPENDANT ECOSYSTEMS
Agriculture, run off and other anthropogenic activities have increased the concentrations of nutrients in not only urban wetlands but also groundwater. Wetland riparian zones serve as a filter reducing nutrients entering the water bodies. Plants and the microbial assemblages of riparian zones are the key mechanisms for nutrient removal in these transition zones. However riparian zones in groundwater dependant ecosystems are poorly documented and little is known about their function. It is well known that nutrients can enter wetlands through contaminated groundwater and also that riparian zones are effective in stripping nutrients from surface flows. Therefore the broad research question of this study is: how effective are riparian zones at removing nutrients from groundwater inflows?. Understanding how riparian zones in groundwater dependant ecosystems function could result in better ways to rehabilitate or design riparian zones to maximise nutrient removal, reducing nutrient inflow into downstream wetlands.
Microbial activity and plant uptake are the key mechanisms to nutrient retention/removal in riparian zones. Plants not only take nutrients directly from the system but also contribute to the microclimate (source of carbon and oxygen) that hosts microbes in the soil of riparian communities. It is important to understand these dynamics in a field setting as previous knowledge on microbial assemblages has been limited only to those microbes that can be cultured in the laboratory. Next generation sequencing over the last decade has allow an insight into microbial assemblages and function of microbes allowing us to correlate this with the environmental conditions of groundwater dependant ecosystems. Therefore the aims of this research are to determine: 1 the spatial variability of microbial assemblages across riparian zones (upland to fringing). 2 if nutrient concentration in groundwater is related to nutrient removal rates. 3 whether variability in nutrient removal rates are due to increased abundance of key taxa or a functional response, and 4 if the spatial variability of microbial assemblages across riparian zones is reversed on the outflow side of the lakes.
Currently working as a Research Officer at the Mine Water Environmental Research Centre for Edith Cowan University.
Please leave a comment about your rating so we can better understand how we might improve the page.