A semi-quantitative survey of macroinvertebrates at selected sites to evaluate the ecosystem health of the Olifants River
De Kock, K.N.
Van Rensburg, L.
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This study was conducted to evaluate the ecosystem health of the Olifants River by means of semi-quantitative surveys of the macroinvertebrates at 7 selected sites in the catchment. These surveys were performed during the high- and low-flow seasons for 2 consecutive years. Macroinvertebrates were collected by using a net consisting of a 30 cm square steel frame with a sturdy handle, to which a Perlon gauze net with a mesh of 1 mm was attached. Semi-quantitative surveys were done by sampling the vegetation, as well as the substratum, with the net at each site for approximately 15 min. The pH, water temperature and conductivity were measured in situ at each site during the different surveys. Samples were fixed and preserved in 90% ethanol and thereafter sorted, identified up to family level and counted. The specimens were categorised as tolerant, moderately sensitive or highly sensitive, according to the guidelines set by the South African Scoring System Version 5 (SASS5). Although a total of 95 taxa were recovered during this study, only 7 of these taxa were categorised as highly sensitive, it can be concluded that the water of the Olifants River is in a poor state of health as revealed by the macroinvertebrate assemblages.