The effect of brine disposal over recipient faunal communities

Desalination plants generate notable quantities of hypersaline brine which potentially affect the biological communities in the receiving area. In conjunction with my colleagues from CIMA- Canarias, an outstanding consulting company from Tenerife, we assessed whether proximity to a brine discharge point located off Gran Canaria altered patterns in the abundance and assemblage structure of subtidal, soft-bottom, meiofauna. Lowest meiofaunal abundances were observed at 0 m than at 15 and 30 m away from the brine discharge point. This pattern was particularly notable for the most conspicuous meiofaunal groups: nematodes and copepods, and meiofaunal assemblage structure also differed with varying proximity to the brine discharge point. Hence, meiofauna can be considered a suitable tool to monitor environmental impacts derived from the discharge of hypersaline effluents on subtidal, soft-bottom, assemblages if potential confounding drivers are accounted for to avoid possible confusing interpretations. The full reference is: R. Riera, Tuya, F., Sacramento, A., Ramos, E., Rodríguez, M., Monterroso, O. 2011. The effects of brine disposal on a subtidal meiofauna community. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 93: 359-365.

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