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Recent human-induced salinity changes in Ramsar-listed Orielton Lagoon, south-east Tasmania, Australia: a new approach for coastal lagoon conservation and management

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Saunders, KM and McMinn, A and Roberts, D and Dodgson, DA and Heijnis, H (2007) Recent human-induced salinity changes in Ramsar-listed Orielton Lagoon, south-east Tasmania, Australia: a new approach for coastal lagoon conservation and management. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 17 (1). pp. 51-70. ISSN 1052-7613

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Abstract

1. Many coastal lagoons in eastern Australia have changed as a result of recent human activities.
However, it is often difficult to determine the extent of change and the ecological implications.
A palaeoecological approach allows a quantitative assessment of how an aquatic ecosystem changes
and responds to human impacts beyond what is possible with historical data or monitoring
programmes.
2. Orielton Lagoon (south-east Tasmania, Australia) is a Ramsar-listed coastal wetland of
international importance for conservation. This study was undertaken at the site to determine
whether recent anthropogenic hydrological modifications to the lagoon had influenced its ecology,
particularly salinity, and compromised its Ramsar status.
3. A diatom–salinity transfer function was constructed from a training data set of 96 diatom taxa
from 34 sampling sites in 19 lagoons along the east coast of Tasmania.
4. The salinity of Orielton Lagoon has changed in response to a causeway constructed across its
mouth, which has transformed the lagoon from an open marine environment to an enclosed,
virtually stagnant, brackish water body.
5. These changes have compromised the protected coastal wetland status of Orielton Lagoon.
Environmental remediation attempts have since partially restored the natural hydrology of the
lagoon and it is now returning towards the state it was in prior to causeway construction.
6. A palaeoecological approach using diatoms was found to be successful in reconstructing recent
salinity changes and investigating human impacts on Orielton Lagoon over the last 50–55 years.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: human impact; coastal management; Ramsar; salinity; diatoms; Tasmania; Australia
Journal or Publication Title: Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Page Range: pp. 51-70
ISSN: 1052-7613
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1002/aqc.732
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2008 14:28
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:34
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