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Ecological Indicators
Volume 115, 2020, 106389

Fluorescence indices of dissolved organic matter as early warning signals of fish farming impacts in a large tropical reservoir

Ronaldo CÚsar Chavesa, Cleber Cunha Figueredob, Iola Gonšalves BoŰchatc, Juliana Trindade Marquesde Oliveirad, Bj÷rn GŘckerc

Graduate Program in Wildlife Ecology, Conservation and Management, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Abstract

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) can be an important source of energy and nutrients in aquatic ecosystems and play important roles in carbon and nutrient dynamics of natural and impacted environments. In order to assess the effects of early stage fish farming on dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations as well as DOM fluorescence indices, we took water samples along transects from six fish farms towards reference sites in a large tropical reservoir (Furnas Reservoir, Southeast Brazil) between April 2013 and December 2016. While DOC concentrations did no change along transects, small but significant changes in fluorescence indices were detectable in up to 100 m from fish farms. Higher fluorescence index (FI) values near fish farms pointed to small increases in microbial production due to fish farming. Only in the more pristine of the two main reservoir branches, small differences in the freshness index (β:α) and the peak T/peak C ratio along transects indicated that the relative contribution of recently produced DOM and the biochemical oxygen demand of DOM increased due to aquaculture. The humification index did not respond to fish farming. In summary, current early-stage fish farming did not appear to cause major impacts on DOM quantity and quality, but future increases in net cage and fish farm densities, as well as longer operation times may change this assessment. The fluorescence indices FI, β:α and peak T/peak C ratio may be useful early warning signals for monitoring fish farm impacts in tropical reservoirs.

Keywords: Tropical aquaculture, Fluorescence indices, Net cage fish farming, Nile tilapia, Brazil.

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