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Title: Sources and impacts of inorganic and organic fine sediment in salmonid spawning gravels in chalk rivers
Author: Bateman, Samantha
ISNI:       0000 0004 2731 9062
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2012
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Poor salmonid spawning habitat due to excessive fine sediment inputs has been identified as a major factor limiting survival in chalk rivers. A lack of knowledge about the complex processes and factors affecting survival was the driver for this study and gaps in the research were identified concerning the sources of fine sediment and the impact organic material had on salmonid survival in chalk streams. Consequently the main objectives of this study were to characterise spawning habitat quality of a chalk catchment, assess the sources of sediments accumulating within artificial redds, describe the composition of organic sediments using emerging technology and to create a novel method to assess the sediment oxygen consumption of those sediments. Methods were based around a catchment wide field based monitoring programme, consisting of artificially constructed spawning gravels which allowed hyporheic measurements to be taken, and sediment analysis and sediment oxygen consumption methods were carried out using different laboratory methods. Spawning habitat characteristics of the chalk catchment were found to exhibit; low sediment accumulation rates although original levels of fine sediment were high, high organic matter content, variable intra-gravel flow and intra-gravel oxygen concentrations and groundwater influences. Primary sources of fine sediment accumulating in spawning gravels and suspended sediments were found to be attributed to catchment surface sources, namely pasture (50-68%) and arable (32-50%) using inorganic and organic parameters. Organic composition of redd gravels was found to be dominated by protein material rather than humic substances, the more commonly found fluorescent compound in freshwater systems and the sediment oxygen consumption of sediments varied throughout the catchment and was found to consume the greatest oxygen in <63μm size fraction. Application of sediment oxygen consumption rates to existing parameter based models that predict salmonid survival, highlighted the need to address the sensitivity of current models to rivers experiencing low sediment accumulation rates. Outcomes of this study further the knowledge of the sources, organic composition and sediment oxygen consumption capacity of fine sediments accumulating in spawning gravels which can lead to appropriate mitigation on chalk rivers to improve salmonid spawning habitat.
Supervisor: Sear, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GE Environmental Sciences ; SH Aquaculture. Fisheries. Angling