ResearchPad - fresh-water Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Sustainability management of short-lived freshwater fish in human-altered ecosystems should focus on adult survival]]> Fish populations globally are susceptible to endangerment through exploitation and habitat loss. We present theoretical simulations to explore how reduced adult survival (age truncation) might affect short-lived freshwater fish species in human-altered contemporary environments. Our simulations evaluate two hypothetical "average fish" and five example fish species of age 1 or age 2 maturity. From a population equilibrium baseline representing a natural, unaltered environment we impose systematic reductions in adult survival and quantify how age truncation affects the causes of variation in population growth rate. We estimate the relative contributions to population growth rate arising from simulated temporal variation in age-specific vital rates and population structure. At equilibrium and irrespective of example species, population structure (first adult age class) and survival probability of the first two adult age classes are the most important determinants of population growth. As adult survival decreases, the first reproductive age class becomes increasingly important to variation in population growth. All simulated examples show the same general pattern of change with age truncation as known for exploited, longer-lived fish species in marine and freshwater environments. This implies age truncation is a general potential concern for fish biodiversity across life history strategies and ecosystems. Managers of short-lived, freshwater fishes in contemporary environments often focus on supporting reproduction to ensure population persistence. However, a strong focus on water management to support reproduction may reduce adult survival. Sustainability management needs a focus on mitigating adult mortality in human-altered ecosystems. A watershed spatial extent embracing land and water uses may be necessary to identify and mitigate causes of age truncation in freshwater species. Achieving higher adult survival will require paradigm transformations in society and government about water management priorities.

<![CDATA[Effects of sea-level rise on physiological ecology of populations of a ground-dwelling ant]]>


Sea-level rise is a consequence of climate change that can impact the ecological and physiological changes of coastal, ground-dwelling species. Sea-level rise has a potential to inundate birds, rodents, spiders, and insects that live on the ground in coastal areas. Yet, there is still much to be learned concerning the specifics of these impacts. The red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta (Buren) excavates soil for its home and is capable of surviving flooding. Because of their ground-dwelling life history and rapid reproduction, fire ants make an ideal model for discovery and prediction of changes that may be due to sea-level rise. There are up to 500,000 individuals in a colony, and these invasive ants naturally have a painful sting. However, observations suggest that colonies of fire ants that dwell in tidally-influenced areas are more aggressive with more frequent stings and more venom injected per sting (behavioral and physiological changes) than those located inland. This may be an adaption to sea-level rise. Therefore, the objective of this study is to elucidate differences in inland and coastal defensiveness via micro-dissection and comparison of head width, head length, stinger length, and venom sac volume. But first because fire ants’ ability to raft on brackish tidal water is unknown, it had to be determined if fire ants could indeed raft in brackish water and examine the behavior differences between those flooded with freshwater vs. saltwater.


To test the coastal-aggression hypothesis, inland colonies and coastal colonies, which experience relatively greater amounts of flooding, specifically regular tidal and windblown water and oscillations (i.e. El Nińo Southern Oscillation) from the Gulf of Mexico, were collected. To mimic sea-level rise, the colonies were flooded in salinities that correspond to both their collection site and conditions found in a variety of locales and situations (such as storm surge from a tropical storm). Individual ants were immediately taken from each colony for dissection before flooding, 1-hour into flooding, and 24-hours into flooding.

Results and discussion

Fire ants use their venom to defend themselves and to communicate alarm or aggression. Dissections and measurement of heads, venom sacs, and stingers revealed both coastal and inland colonies experience an increase in venom sac volume after 24 hours; in fact coastal colonies increased their venom volume by 75% after 24 h of flooding Whether this venom sac enlargement is due to diffusion of water or venom sac production is unknown. These ground-dwelling ants exhibit physiological and behavioral adaptations to ongoing sea-level rise possibly indicating that they are responding to increased flooding. Fire ants will raft on high-salinity water; and sea-level rise may cause stings by flooded ants to be more severe because of increased venom volume.

<![CDATA[Perceived socio-economic impacts of the marbled crayfish invasion in Madagascar]]>

The negative environmental and economic impacts of many invasive species are well known. However, given the increased homogenization of global biota, and the difficulty of eradicating species once established, a balanced approach to considering the impacts of invasive species is needed. The marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis) is a parthenogenetic freshwater crayfish that was first observed in Madagascar around 2005 and has spread rapidly. We present the results of a socio-economic survey (n = 385) in three regions of Madagascar that vary in terms of when the marbled crayfish first arrived. Respondents generally considered marbled crayfish to have a negative impact on rice agriculture and fishing, however the animals were seen as making a positive contribution to household economy and food security. Regression modeling showed that respondents in regions with longer experience of marbled crayfish have more positive perceptions. Unsurprisingly, considering the perception that crayfish negatively impact rice agriculture, those not involved in crayfish harvesting and trading had more negative views towards the crayfish than those involved in crayfish-related activities. Food preference ranking and market surveys revealed the acceptance of marbled crayfish as a cheap source of animal protein; a clear positive in a country with widespread malnutrition. While data on biodiversity impacts of the marbled crayfish invasion in Madagascar are still completely lacking, this study provides insight into the socio-economic impacts of the dramatic spread of this unique invasive species. Biby kely tsy fantam-piaviana, mahavelona fianakaviana” (a small animal coming from who knows where which supports the needs of the family). Government worker Analamanga, Madagascar.

<![CDATA[Bund removal to re-establish tidal flow, remove aquatic weeds and restore coastal wetland services—North Queensland, Australia]]>

The shallow tidal and freshwater coastal wetlands adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon provide a vital nursery and feeding complex that supports the life cycles of marine and freshwater fish, important native vegetation and vital bird habitat. Urban and agricultural development threaten these wetlands, with many of the coastal wetlands becoming lost or changed due to the construction of artificial barriers (e.g. bunds, roads, culverts and floodgates). Infestation by weeds has become a major issue within many of the wetlands modified (bunded) for ponded pasture growth last century. A range of expensive chemical and mechanical control methods have been used in an attempt to restore some of these coastal wetlands, with limited success. This study describes an alternative approach to those methods, investigating the impact of tidal reinstatement after bund removal on weed infestation, associated changes in water quality, and fish biodiversity, in the Boolgooroo lagoon region of the Mungalla wetlands, East of Ingham in North Queensland. High resolution remote sensing, electrofishing and in-water logging was used to track changes over time– 1 year before and 4 years after removal of an earth bund. With tides only penetrating the wetland a few times yearly, gross changes towards a more natural system occurred within a relatively short timeframe, leading to a major reduction in infestation of olive hymenachne, water hyacinth and salvina, reappearance of native vegetation, improvements in water quality, and a tripling of fish diversity. Weed abundance and water quality does appear to oscillate however, dependent on summer rainfall, as changes in hydraulic pressure stops or allows tidal ingress (fresh/saline cycling). With an estimated 30% of coastal wetlands bunded in the Great Barrier Reef region, a passive remediation method such as reintroduction of tidal flow by removal of an earth bund or levee could provide a more cost effective and sustainable means of controlling freshwater weeds and improving coastal water quality into the future.

<![CDATA[Rainfall trend and variability in Southeast Florida: Implications for freshwater availability in the Everglades]]>

Freshwater demand in Southeast Florida is predicted to increase over the next few decades. However, shifting patterns in the intensity and frequency of drought create considerable pressure on local freshwater availability. Well-established water resources management requires evaluating and understanding long-term rainfall patterns, drought intensity and cycle, and related rainfall deficit. In this study, the presence of rainfall monotonic trends was analyzed using linear regression and Mann–Kendal trend tests. Pettit's single point detection test examined the presence of an abrupt change of rainfall. Drought in Southeast Florida is assessed using the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) in 3-, 6-, 12-, and 24-months scale; and the Fast Fourier Transform is applied to evaluate the frequency of each drought intensity. There was an increase of rainfall in most of the wet season months, the total wet season, and the annual total. The wet season duration showed a decrease driven by a decrease in October rainfall. Since 1990, wet season and total annual rainfall exhibited an abrupt increase. The SPI analysis has indicated that extended wetness characterizes the contemporary rainfall regime since 1995, except for the incidence of intermittent dry spells. Short-term droughts have 3-year to 5-year recurrence intervals, and sustained droughts have a 10-year and 20-year recurrence intervals. In Southeast Florida, prolonged drought limits freshwater availability by decreasing recharge, resulting in a longer hydro-period to maintain the health of the Everglades Ecosystem, and to control saltwater intrusion. The increasing dry season duration suggests the growing importance of promoting surface water storage and demand-side management practices.

<![CDATA[Environmental DNA metabarcoding for fish community analysis in backwater lakes: A comparison of capture methods]]>

The use of environmental DNA (eDNA) methods for community analysis has recently been developed. High-throughput parallel DNA sequencing (HTS), called eDNA metabarcoding, has been increasingly used in eDNA studies to examine multiple species. However, eDNA metabarcoding methodology requires validation based on traditional methods in all natural ecosystems before a reliable method can be established. To date, relatively few studies have performed eDNA metabarcoding of fishes in aquatic environments where fish communities were intensively surveyed using multiple traditional methods. Here, we have compared fish communities’ data from eDNA metabarcoding with seven conventional multiple capture methods in 31 backwater lakes in Hokkaido, Japan. We found that capture and field surveys of fishes were often interrupted by macrophytes and muddy sediments in the 31 lakes. We sampled 1 L of the surface water and analyzed eDNA using HTS. We also surveyed the fish communities using seven different capture methods, including various types of nets and electrofishing. At some sites, we could not detect any eDNA, presumably because of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) inhibition. We also detected the marine fish species as sewage-derived eDNA. Comparisons of eDNA metabarcoding and capture methods showed that the detected fish communities were similar between the two methods, with an overlap of 70%. Thus, our study suggests that to detect fish communities in backwater lakes, the performance of eDNA metabarcoding with the use of 1 L surface water sampling is similar to that of capturing methods. Therefore, eDNA metabarcoding can be used for fish community analysis but environmental factors that can cause PCR inhibition, should be considered in eDNA applications.

<![CDATA[Age structure of the Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri)]]>

The Australian lungfish has been studied for more than a century without any knowledge of the longevity of the species. Traditional methods for ageing fish, such as analysis of otolith (ear stone) rings is complicated in that lungfish otoliths differ from teleost fish in composition. As otolith sampling is also lethal, this is not appropriate for a protected species listed under Australian legislation. Lungfish scales were removed from 500 fish from the Brisbane, Burnett and Mary rivers. A sub–sample of scales (85) were aged using bomb radiocarbon techniques and validated using scales marked previously with oxytetracycline. Lungfish ages ranged from 2.5–77 years of age. Estimated population age structures derived using an Age Length Key revealed different recruitment patterns between river systems. There were statistically significant von Bertalanffy growth model parameters estimated for each of the three rivers based on limited sample sizes. In addition, length frequency distributions between river systems were also significantly different. Further studies will be conducted to review drivers that may explain these inter-river differences.

<![CDATA[Rapa Nui (Easter Island) monument (ahu) locations explained by freshwater sources]]>

Explaining the processes underlying the emergence of monument construction is a major theme in contemporary anthropological archaeology, and recent studies have employed spatially-explicit modeling to explain these patterns. Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) is famous for its elaborate ritual architecture, particularly numerous monumental platforms (ahu) and statuary (moai). To date, however, we lack explicit modeling to explain spatial and temporal aspects of monument construction. Here, we use spatially-explicit point-process modeling to explore the potential relations between ahu construction locations and subsistence resources, namely, rock mulch agricultural gardens, marine resources, and freshwater sources—the three most critical resources on Rapa Nui. Through these analyses, we demonstrate the central importance of coastal freshwater seeps for precontact populations. Our results suggest that ahu locations are most parsimoniously explained by distance from freshwater sources, in particular coastal seeps, with important implications for community formation and inter-community competition in precontact times.

<![CDATA[Role of freshwater floodplain-tidal slough complex in the persistence of the endangered delta smelt]]>

Seasonal floodplain wetland is one of the most variable and diverse habitats found in coastal ecosystems, yet it is also one of the most highly altered by humans. The Yolo Bypass, the primary floodplain of the Sacramento River in California’s Central Valley, USA, has been shown to provide various benefits to native fishes when inundated. However, the Yolo Bypass exists as a tidal dead-end slough during dry periods and its value to native fishes has been less studied in this state. During the recent drought (2012–2016), we found higher abundance of the endangered Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus), than the previous 14 years of fish monitoring within the Yolo Bypass. Meanwhile, Delta Smelt abundance elsewhere in the estuary was at record lows during this time. To determine the value of the Yolo Bypass as a nursery habitat for Delta Smelt, we compared growth, hatch dates, and diets of juvenile Delta Smelt collected within the Yolo Bypass with fish collected among other putative nursery habitats in the San Francisco Estuary between 2010 and 2016. Our results indicated that when compared to other areas of the estuary, fish in the Yolo Bypass spawned earlier, and offspring experienced both higher quality feeding conditions and growth rates. The occurrence of healthy juvenile Delta Smelt in the Yolo Bypass suggested that the region may have acted as a refuge for the species during the drought years of 2012–2016. However, our results also demonstrated that no single region provided the best rearing habitat for juvenile Delta Smelt. It will likely require a mosaic of habitats that incorporates floodplain-tidal sloughs in order to promote the resilience of this declining estuarine fish species.

<![CDATA[Phenotypic plasticity in specialists: How long-spined larval Sympetrum depressiusculum (Odonata: Libellulidae) responds to combined predator cues]]>

Phenotypic plasticity is a common defensive strategy in species experiencing variable predation risk, such as habitat generalists. Larvae of generalist dragonflies can elongate their abdominal spines in environments with fish, but long spines render larvae susceptible to invertebrate predators. Long-spined specialists adapted to fish-heavy habitats are not expected to have phenotypic plasticity in this defence trait, but no empirical studies have been undertaken. Moreover, in comparison to prey responding to multiple predators that induce similar phenotypes, relatively little is known regarding how species react to combinations of predators that favour opposing traits. We examined plasticity of larval dragonfly Sympetrum depressiusculum, a long-spined habitat specialist. In a rearing experiment, larvae were exposed to four environments: (i) no predator control, (ii) fish cues (Carassius auratus), (iii) invertebrate cues (Anax imperator), as well as (iv) a combination of (ii) and (iii). Compared with the control, fish but not invertebrate cues resulted in longer spines for two (one lateral, one dorsal) of the six spines measured. Interestingly, the combined-cue treatment led to the elongation of all four dorsal spines compared with the fish treatment alone, whereas lateral spines showed no response. Our experiment provided evidence of morphological plasticity in a long-spined specialist dragonfly. We showed that nearly all spines can elongate, but also react differently under specific predator settings. Therefore, while spine plasticity evolved in direct response to a single predator type (fish), plasticity was maintained against invertebrate predators as long as fish were also present. Selective spine induction under the combined condition suggests that S. depressiusculum can successfully survive in environments with both predators. Therefore, phenotypic plasticity may be an effective strategy for habitat generalists and specialists. Although more studies are necessary to fully understand how selection shapes the evolution of phenotypic plasticity, we demonstrated that in dragonflies, presence or absence of a specific predator is not the only factor that determines plastic defence responses.

<![CDATA[High incidence of leptospirosis in an observational study of hospital outpatients in Vanuatu highlights the need for improved awareness and diagnostic capacities]]>


Estimates of leptospirosis morbidity identified Oceania as the region with highest burden. Besides Australia and New Zealand, Oceania is home of Pacific Island Countries and Territories, most of which are developing countries facing a number of challenges. Their archipelago geography notably affects health infrastructure and access to healthcare. Although human leptospirosis was formerly identified in Vanuatu, there is a lack of knowledge of this disease in the country. We aimed to identify leptospirosis in outpatients visiting the hospital.

Methodology/Principal findings

We conducted a clinical study to investigate leptospirosis as a cause of non-malarial acute febrile illness in Vanuatu. A total 161 outpatients visiting the outpatient clinics at Port Vila Central Hospital for internal medicine were recruited over 20 month. We showed that leptospirosis significantly affects humans in Vanuatu: 12 cases were confirmed by real-time PCR on acute blood samples (n = 5) or by high serology titers evidencing a recent infection (MAT titer ≥800 or ELISA≥18 Units, n = 7). A high rate of positive serology was also evidenced, by MAT (100<titer<800, 9 patients) or ELISA IgM (ELISA≥12 Units, 20 patients, including 6 also positive in MAT), showing frequent exposure to pathogenic leptospires, notably from serogroup Australis.


The high numbers of both seropositive patients and acute leptospirosis cases observed in outpatients visiting Port Vila Central Hospital suggest a high exposure to pathogenic Leptospira in the population studied. The MAT serology pointing to serogroup Australis as well as exposure history suggest that livestock animals largely contribute to the burden of human leptospirosis in Vanuatu. The analysis of residential and travel data suggests that the risk might even be higher in other islands of the Vanuatu archipelago. Altogether, our study emphasizes the need to increase awareness and build laboratory capacity to improve the medical care of leptospirosis in Vanuatu.

<![CDATA[Biogeography and Character Evolution of the Ciliate Genus Euplotes (Spirotrichea, Euplotia), with Description of Euplotes curdsi sp. nov.]]>

Ciliates comprise a diverse and ecologically important phylum of unicellular protists. One of the most specious and best-defined genera is Euplotes, which constitutes more than 70 morphospecies, many of which have never been molecularly tested. The increasing number of described Euplotes taxa emphasizes the importance for detailed characterizations of new ones, requiring standardized morphological observations, sequencing of molecular markers and careful comparison with previous literature. Here we describe Euplotes curdsi sp. nov., distinguishable by the combination of the following features: 45–65 μm length, oval or elongated shape with both ends rounded, narrow peristome with 25–34 adoral membranelles, conspicuous paroral membrane, double-eurystomus dorsal argyrome type, 6–7 dorsolateral kineties and 10 frontoventral cirri. Three populations of the novel species have been found in brackish and marine samples in the Mediterranean and the White Sea. We provide the SSU rRNA gene sequences of these populations, and an updated phylogeny of the genus Euplotes. Using the molecular phylogenetic tree, we inferred aspects of the biogeographical history of the genus and the evolution of its most important taxonomic characters in order to provide a frame for future descriptions. Ultimately, these data reveal recurrent trends of freshwater invasion and highlight the dynamic, yet convergent, morphological evolution of Euplotes.

<![CDATA[Impact of Annual Praziquantel Treatment on Urogenital Schistosomiasis in a Seasonal Transmission Focus in Central Senegal]]>

In Sub-Saharan Africa, urogenital schistosomiasis remains a significant public health problem, causing 150.000 deaths/year with approximately 112 million cases diagnosed. The Niakhar district is a disease hotspot in central Senegal where transmission occurs seasonally with high prevalences. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of annual treatment over 3 years on the seasonal transmission dynamics of S. haematobium in 9 villages in the Niakhar district. Adults and children aged between 5 and 60 years were surveyed from 2011 to 2014. Urine samples were collected door-to-door and examined for S. haematobium eggs at baseline in June 2011, and all participants were treated in August 2011 with PZQ (40 mg/kg). After this initial examination, evaluations were conducted at 3 successive time points from September 2011 to March 2014, to measure the efficacy of the annual treatments and the rates of reinfection. Each year, during the transmission period, from July to November-December, malacological surveys were also carried out in the fresh water bodies of each village to evaluate the infestation of the snail intermediate hosts. At baseline, the overall prevalence of S. haematobium infection was 57.7%, and the proportion of heavy infection was 45.3%, but one month after the first treatment high cure rates (92.9%) were obtained. The overall infection prevalence and proportion of heavy infection intensities were drastically reduced to 4.2% and 2.3%, respectively. The level of the first reinfection in February-March 2012 was 9.5%. At follow-up time points, prevalence levels varied slightly between reinfection and treatment from 9.5% in June 2012 to 0.3% in March 2013, 11.2 in June 2013, and 10.1% April 2014. At the end of the study, overall prevalence was significantly reduced from 57.7% to 10.1%. The overall rate of infested Bulinid snails was reduced after repeated treatment from 0.8% in 2012 to 0.5% in 2013. Repeated annual treatments are suggested to have a considerable impact on the transmission dynamics of S. haematobium in Niakhar, due to the nature of the epidemiological system with seasonal transmission. Thus, to maintain this benefit and continue to reduce the morbidity of urogenital schistosomiasis, other approaches should be integrated into the strategy plans of the National program to achieve the goal of urogenital schistosomiasis elimination in seasonal foci in Senegal.

<![CDATA[Unusual behaviour of phototrophic picoplankton in turbid waters]]>

Autotrophic picoplankton (APP) abundance and contribution to phytoplankton biomass was studied in Hungarian shallow lakes to test the effect of inorganic turbidity determining the size distribution of the phytoplankton. The studied lakes displayed wide turbidity (TSS: 4–2250 mg l-1) and phytoplankton biomass (chlorophyll a: 1–460 μg l-1) range, as well as APP abundance (0 and 100 million cells ml-1) and contribution (0–100%) to total phytoplankton biomass. Inorganic turbidity had a significant effect on the abundance and contribution of APP, resulting in higher values compared to other freshwater lakes with the same phytoplankton biomass. Our analysis has provided empirical evidence for a switching point (50 mg l-1 inorganic turbidity), above which turbidity is the key factor causing APP predominance regardless of phytoplankton biomass in shallow turbid lakes. Our results have shown that turbid shallow lakes are unique waters, where the formerly and widely accepted model (decreasing APP contribution with increasing phytoplankton biomass) is not applicable. We hypothesize that this unusual behaviour of APP in turbid waters is a result of either diminished underwater light intensity or a reduced grazing pressure due to high inorganic turbidity.

<![CDATA[Characterization of bacterial community associated with phytoplankton bloom in a eutrophic lake in South Norway using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequence analysis]]>

Interactions between different phytoplankton taxa and heterotrophic bacterial communities within aquatic environments can differentially support growth of various heterotrophic bacterial species. In this study, phytoplankton diversity was studied using traditional microscopic techniques and the bacterial communities associated with phytoplankton bloom were studied using High Throughput Sequencing (HTS) analysis of 16S rRNA gene amplicons from the V1-V3 and V3-V4 hypervariable regions. Samples were collected from Lake Akersvannet, a eutrophic lake in South Norway, during the growth season from June to August 2013. Microscopic examination revealed that the phytoplankton community was mostly represented by Cyanobacteria and the dinoflagellate Ceratium hirundinella. The HTS results revealed that Proteobacteria (Alpha, Beta, and Gamma), Bacteriodetes, Cyanobacteria, Actinobacteria and Verrucomicrobia dominated the bacterial community, with varying relative abundances throughout the sampling season. Species level identification of Cyanobacteria showed a mixed population of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, Microcystis aeruginosa and Woronichinia naegeliana. A significant proportion of the microbial community was composed of unclassified taxa which might represent locally adapted freshwater bacterial groups. Comparison of cyanobacterial species composition from HTS and microscopy revealed quantitative discrepancies, indicating a need for cross validation of results. To our knowledge, this is the first study that uses HTS methods for studying the bacterial community associated with phytoplankton blooms in a Norwegian lake. The study demonstrates the value of considering results from multiple methods when studying bacterial communities.

<![CDATA[Corkscrew Seals: Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus) Infanticide and Cannibalism May Indicate the Cause of Spiral Lacerations in Seals]]>

Large numbers of dead seals with characteristic spiral lesions have been washing ashore around the North Atlantic over the past two decades. Interactions with ship propellers and shark predation have been suggested as the likely causal mechanisms. However, new evidence points towards a more likely candidate: grey seal predation. An adult male grey seal was observed and recorded catching, killing and eating five weaned grey seal pups over a period of one week on the Isle of May, Scotland. A further 9 carcasses found in the same area exhibited similar injuries. Post mortem analysis of lesions indicated the wound characteristics were similar to each other and in 12 of the 14 carcasses analysed, were indistinguishable from carcasses previously attributed to propeller interaction. We therefore propose that most of the seal carcasses displaying spiral lacerations in the UK are caused by grey seal predation. Cases in other locations should be re-evaluated using the scoring system presented here to identify whether grey seal predation is a major cause of mortality in phocid seals.

<![CDATA[Isolation Driven Divergence in Osmoregulation in Galaxias maculatus (Jenyns, 1848) (Actinopterygii: Osmeriformes)]]>


Marine species have colonized extreme environments during evolution such as freshwater habitats. The amphidromous teleost fish, Galaxias maculatus is found mainly migrating between estuaries and rivers, but some landlocked populations have been described in lakes formed during the last deglaciation process in the Andes. In the present study we use mtDNA sequences to reconstruct the historical scenario of colonization of such a lake and evaluated the osmoregulatory shift associated to changes in habitat and life cycle between amphidromous and landlocked populations.


Standard diversity indices including the average number of nucleotide differences (Π) and the haplotype diversity index (H) indicated that both populations were, as expected, genetically distinctive, being the landlocked population less diverse than the diadromous one. Similarly, pairwise GST and NST comparison detected statistically significant differences between both populations, while genealogy of haplotypes evidenced a recent founder effect from the diadromous stock, followed by an expansion process in the lake. To test for physiological differences, individuals of both populations were challenged with a range of salinities from 0 to 30 ppt for 8 days following a period of progressive acclimation. The results showed that the landlocked population had a surprisingly wider tolerance to salinity, as landlocked fish survival was 100% from 0 to 20 ppt, whereas diadromous fish survival was 100% only from 10 to 15 ppt. The activity of ATPase enzymes, including Na+/K+-ATPase (NKA), and H+-ATPase (HA) was measured in gills and intestine. Activity differences were detected between the populations at the lowest salinities, including differences in ATPases other than NKA and HA. Population differences in mortality are not reflected in enzyme activity differences, suggesting divergence in other processes.


These results clearly demonstrate the striking adaptive changes of G. maculatus osmoregulatory system, especially at hyposmotic environments, associated to a drastic shift in habitat and life cycle at a scale of a few thousand years.

<![CDATA[Large-Scale Land Acquisition and Its Effects on the Water Balance in Investor and Host Countries]]>

This study examines the validity of the assumption that international large-scale land acquisition (LSLA) is motivated by the desire to secure control over water resources, which is commonly referred to as ‘water grabbing’. This assumption was repeatedly expressed in recent years, ascribing the said motivation to the Gulf States in particular. However, it must be considered of hypothetical nature, as the few global studies conducted so far focused primarily on the effects of LSLA on host countries or on trade in virtual water. In this study, we analyse the effects of 475 intended or concluded land deals recorded in the Land Matrix database on the water balance in both host and investor countries. We also examine how these effects relate to water stress and how they contribute to global trade in virtual water. The analysis shows that implementation of the LSLAs in our sample would result in global water savings based on virtual water trade. At the level of individual LSLA host countries, however, water use intensity would increase, particularly in 15 sub-Saharan states. From an investor country perspective, the analysis reveals that countries often suspected of using LSLA to relieve pressure on their domestic water resources—such as China, India, and all Gulf States except Saudi Arabia—invest in agricultural activities abroad that are less water-intensive compared to their average domestic crop production. Conversely, large investor countries such as the United States, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Japan are disproportionately externalizing crop water consumption through their international land investments. Statistical analyses also show that host countries with abundant water resources are not per se favoured targets of LSLA. Indeed, further analysis reveals that land investments originating in water-stressed countries have only a weak tendency to target areas with a smaller water risk.

<![CDATA[Ecological and human health risks associated with abandoned gold mine tailings contaminated soil]]>

Gold mining is a major source of metal and metalloid emissions into the environment. Studies were carried out in Krugersdorp, South Africa, to evaluate the ecological and human health risks associated with exposure to metals and metalloids in mine tailings contaminated soils. Concentrations of arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), manganese (Mn), nickel (Ni), and zinc (Zn) in soil samples from the area varied with the highest contamination factors (expressed as ratio of metal or metalloid concentration in the tailings contaminated soil to that of the control site) observed for As (3.5x102), Co (2.8x102) and Ni (1.1x102). Potential ecological risk index values for metals and metalloids determined from soil metal and metalloid concentrations and their respective risk factors were correspondingly highest for As (3.5x103) and Co (1.4x103), whereas Mn (0.6) presented the lowest ecological risk. Human health risk was assessed using Hazard Quotient (HQ), Chronic Hazard Index (CHI) and carcinogenic risk levels, where values of HQ > 1, CHI > 1 and carcinogenic risk values > 1×10−4 represent elevated risks. Values for HQ indicated high exposure-related risk for As (53.7), Cr (14.8), Ni (2.2), Zn (2.64) and Mn (1.67). Children were more at risk from heavy metal and metalloid exposure than adults. Cancer-related risks associated with metal and metalloid exposure among children were also higher than in adults with cancer risk values of 3×10−2 and 4×10−2 for As and Ni respectively among children, and 5×10−3 and 4×10−3 for As and Ni respectively among adults. There is significant potential ecological and human health risk associated with metal and metalloid exposure from contaminated soils around gold mine tailings dumps. This could be a potential contributing factor to a setback in the health of residents in informal settlements dominating this mining area as the immune systems of some of these residents are already compromised by high HIV prevalence.

<![CDATA[Insights on the Optical Properties of Estuarine DOM – Hydrological and Biological Influences]]>

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) in estuaries derives from a diverse array of both allochthonous and autochthonous sources. In the estuarine system Ria de Aveiro (Portugal), the seasonality and the sources of the fraction of DOM that absorbs light (CDOM) were inferred using its optical and fluorescence properties. CDOM parameters known to be affected by aromaticity and molecular weight were correlated with physical, chemical and meteorological parameters. Two sites, representative of the marine and brackish water zones of the estuary, and with different hydrological characteristics, were regularly surveyed along two years, in order to determine the major influences on CDOM properties. Terrestrial-derived compounds are the predominant source of CDOM in the estuary during almost all the year and the two estuarine zones presented distinct amounts, as well as absorbance and fluorescence characteristics. Freshwater inputs have major influence on the dynamics of CDOM in the estuary, in particular at the brackish water zone, where accounted for approximately 60% of CDOM variability. With a lower magnitude, the biological productivity also impacted the optical properties of CDOM, explaining about 15% of its variability. Therefore, climate changes related to seasonal and inter-annual variations of the precipitation amounts might impact the dynamics of CDOM significantly, influencing its photochemistry and the microbiological activities in estuarine systems.