Assessing ecological impacts of shrimp and sewage effluent: Biological indicators with standard water quality analyses
Despite evidence linking shrimp farming to several cases of environmental degradation, there remains a lack of ecologically meaningful information about the impacts of effluent on receiving waters. The aim of this study was to determine the biological impact of shrimp farm effluent, and to compare and distinguish its impacts from treated sewage effluent. Analyses included standard water quality/sediment parameters, as well as biological indicators including tissue nitrogen (N) content, stable isotope ratio of nitrogen (delta N-15) and amino acid composition of inhabitant seagrasses, mangroves and macroalgae. The study area consisted of two tidal creeks, one receiving effluent from a sewage treatment plant and the other from an intensive shrimp farm. The creeks discharged into the western side of Moreton Bay, a sub-tropical coastal embayment on the east coast of Australia. Characterization of water quality revealed significant differences between the creeks, and with unimpacted eastern Moreton Bay. The sewage creek had higher concentrations of dissolved nutrients (predominantly NO3-/NO2- and PO43-, compared to NH4+ in the shrimp creek). In contrast, the shrimp creek was more turbid and had higher phytoplankton productivity. Beyond 750 m from the creek mouths, water quality parameters were indistinguishable from eastern Moreton Bay values. Biological indicators detected significant impacts up to 4 km beyond the creek mouths (reference site). Elevated plant delta N-15 values ranged from 10.4-19.6 parts per thousand at the site of sewage discharge to 2.9-4.5 parts per thousand at the reference site. The free amino acid concentration and composition of seagrass and macroalgae was used to distinguish between the uptake of sewage and shrimp derived N. Proline (seagrass) and serine (macroalgae) were high in sewage impacted plants and glutamine (seagrass) and alanine (macroalgae) were high in plants impacted by shrimp effluent. The delta N-15 isotopic signatures and free amino acid composition of inhabitant flora indicated that sewage N extended further from the creek mouths than shrimp N. The combination of physical/chemical and biological indicators used in this study was effective in distinguishing the composition and subsequent impacts of aquaculture and sewage effluent on the receiving waters. (C) 2001 Academic Press.
Keywords: aquaculture, shrimp effluent, sewage effluent, biological indicators, , stable isotopes, delta N-15, amino acid composition, Moreton Bay, Australia, gracilaria-pacifica rhodophyta, amino-acid levels, zostera-marina l, , physiological-responses, nutrient availability, cyanidium-caldarium, , estuarine gradient, edulis rhodophyta, light-intensity, nitrogen uptake