Metal concentrations in Hydrocynus vittatus (Castelnau 1861) populations from a premier conservation area: relationships with environmental concentrations
Smit, Nico J.
Van Vuren, Johan H.J.
MetadataShow full item record
Metals are known to have deleterious effects on aquatic ecosystems, so monitoring the bioaccumulation of these pollutants is important for the assessment of potential impacts. The aim of the study was therefore to determine the degree to which aquatic biota in selected rivers of the world renowned Kruger National Park (KNP) are exposed to metals entering from the catchments outside the KNP and to determine how these metal levels reflect what is occurring within the environment. Many of these rivers have never previously been assessed and those which have, have not been assessed within the past two decades. Tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus) is an economically important apex predator and was selected as the bioindicator for this study. Fish were sampled from the KNP sections of the Luvuvhu, Letaba and Olifants Rivers during the high and low flow periods from 2009 to 2011. The analysis of various metals from the aforementioned systems revealed spatial and temporal related variation in metal level patterns of the chosen bioindicator, with concentrations in fish from the Olifants River>Letaba River>Luvuvhu River and 2009>2010>2011. Although there were differences between rivers, metal concentrations were comparable and indicate that all of the studied KNP rivers, even those considered to be in a natural state are affected to some degree by anthropogenic activities. However, concentrations found during this study were much lower than previous studies in the area, as well as contaminated sites across the world, but were higher than concentrations in fish from contaminated sites in the Vaal River, South Africa. Bioaccumulated metals showed no correlation to metals in the water column, but some were correlated to sediment metal concentrations and the contamination and bioavailability of these metals within the sediments. This is of concern when managing the water resources of the conservation area since the contaminants enter the park from outside the borders and pose potential risks to the mandated conservation of aquatic biota within the KNP