BAFFICO gustavo Daniel
Epilithic algae distribution along a chemical gradient in a naturally acidic river, Río Agrio (Patagonia, Argentina)
Año: 2010 vol. 59 p. 533 - 545
The epilithic algae distribution along a pH gradient, and the relationship between the chemical gradient and biomass development were studied in Río Agrio, a naturally acidic river located in Patagonia (Argentina). The epilithic community was monitored during the summer of three consecutive years in sites located above and below the entrance of tributaries. The epilithic community showed differences between sites based on the chemical composition of the water and the precipitates that appear on the streambed of the river. The lowest biomass, diversity and number of species were found at the most extreme part of the river, in terms of pH (ca. 2) and element concentrations. Euglena mutabilis was the dominant species in this section of the river. As pH increased (ca. 3), the community changed to be dominated by filamentous green algae (Ulothrix spp., Mougeotia sp., Klebsormidium sp.) showing luxuriant growths, in terms of biomass. With the inflow of a neutral tributary, the pH of Río Agrio increased above 3 and the precipitates of orange-red iron hydroxides appeared. The algal community was not affected by these precipitates or the low P concentrations, along the next 30 Km of river downstream from this site. The apparent physical stress that the precipitates impose on algae, are in fact a dynamic reservoir of P, because of the diel cycle of Fe could be promoting precipitation and redisolution processes that binds and releases P from these precipitates. Where the pH increased above 6 precipitates of aluminium hydroxides appeared. At this site the epilithic biomass and density decreased, some algae species changed but the diversity and the number of species in general remained consistent with the upstream values. The physical stress of the Al precipitates on the algae is added to the chemical stress that represents the sequestering of P in these precipitates that are not redissolved, resulting P a limiting nutrient for algae growth.