Nutrient enrichment and trace element accumulation in sediments caused by waterbird colonies at a Mediterranean semiarid floodplain
López-Perea, Jhon J.
Rodriguez Martín-Doimeadios, Rosa C.
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Waterfowl are vectors of nutrients, metals, and other pollutants (i.e. PCBs and microorganisms) on wetlands and other water bodies, especially when bird population density is high, e.g., in nesting, roosting or breeding periods. This work reports the effects caused by the increase in breeding pairs of herons and cormorants between 2010 and 2014 on sediments in an eutrophic Mediterranean wetland belonging to La Mancha Húmeda Biosphere Reserve. Nutrients, metals, metalloids, and isotopic composition (δ15N and δ13C) were analysed in sediments and faeces at several points in the Tablas de Daimiel National Park (TDNP), as well as in the nearby Navaseca wetland, which receives inputs from a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Sediments from Navaseca and from one site that is affected by heron colonies (Garcera) in the TDNP showed higher concentrations of organic matter, total organic carbon, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, Al, Co, Cu, Cr, Fe, Ni and Zn than the rest of the sampling sites. Significant correlations between these variables were found, probably suggesting that they have a common organic source. The highest δ15N values in sediments of the TDNP were registered in Guadiana, a site where there is no impact from colonies; these values might therefore be due to anthropogenic activities. Metal and metalloid content in sediments was lower than the regional reference values in soils, except for Se in the TDNP, and Zn and Cu in Navaseca. High Se level in TDNP sediment may be caused by seleniferous soils located upstream. Results showed a low impact of bird droppings compared to other sources of nutrients in the annual input in the TDNP.