The interactions between macrophytes and sediments in urban river systems.
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Many urban rivers receive significant inputs of metal-contaminated sediments from their catchments. Their restoration has the potential to increase the deposition and accumulation of these sediments from greater sediment supply and increased channel hydraulic complexity, creating a store of metals which could have negative impacts upon ecosystems and human health. Macrophytes often establish in restored channels and have the potential to stabilise these sediments and uptake metals through processes of phytoremediation, thus reducing the risk of the accumulated sediments becoming a source of metals. This thesis investigates the effects of river restoration upon sedimentation patterns and the interactions between macrophytes and sediments in terms of sediment trapping, stabilisation and metal uptake within urban river systems. At a reach scale, greater finer sediment deposition and the accumulation of sediment around in-channel vegetation was found within restored stretches of tributaries of the River Thames London, reflecting sediment availability and hydraulic conditions. These sediments were important in terms of greater metal storage within stretches, and along with gravels showed particularly high metal concentrations. Interactions between macrophytes, sediment and flow were investigated within the urban-influenced River Blackwater, Surrey. At the stand scale, the common emergent Sparganium erectum was found to significantly reduce flow velocities, accumulate fine sediments and retain them over winter. Research on individual plants revealed that, although three common emergent macrophytes (Sparganium erectum, Typha latifolia and Phalaris arundinacea) did not significantly phytoremediate metal contaminated sediments through metal uptake or bioconcentration, the reinforcement and stabilisation of these accumulated sediments (particularly by Sparganium erectum and Typha latifolia) and the creation of anoxic sediment conditions which strongly bind metals, were important in reducing the risk of metal mobilisation from the sediments. These macrophyte sediment interactions illustrate the great potential of using emergent macrophytes in the restoration and management of urban rivers with metal contaminated sediments.
AuthorsGibbs, Helen Margaret
- Theses