aquatic macrophyte community
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The floodplain of the river Ill in the Alsace Rhine valley is used as a model to study river-groundwater exchange process. Groundwater-fed streams located in the Ill floodplain are analysed using three methods: an analytical method based on hydrochemical variables (Cl− NO3 −, PO 4 3− and NH4 +), a phytosociological one based on surveys of aquatic macrophyte communities and a biological method based on the accumulation of mercury in the moss Fontinalis antipyretica. The results show that the eutrophicated and polluted river Ill (660 µg l−1 N-NH4 +, 500 µg l−1 P-PO 4 3− , 0.3–0.4 mg Hg kg− dry weight of moss) has a negative effect on the groundwater via the bed, depending on the level of the river bed in relation to the groundwater table level. Upstream of Colmar in the south of the Alsace floodplain, the Ill waters infiltrate and contaminate the groundwater, but this is not the case further downstream. Along a stretch of the Ill (40 km) annual floods provide eutrophicated and polluted waters to the aquifer. However these waters are purified during their transfer through the soil-vegetation system. Thus in the groundwater-fed streams the water is characterised by a low level of phosphate, ammonium nitrogen and mercury (10–20 µg l−1 N-NH4 + and P-PO 4 3− , 〈 0.05 mg Hg kg−1 dry weight of moss). We demonstrate the importance of a functional floodplain in replenishing the aquifer with poor-nutrient waters. The aquatic vegetation of groundwater-fed streams reflects the water quality and thus can be used as a bioindicator and descriptor of river-groundwater exchange process.
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