Jupiter Creek, near Echunga
2008 Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Report
- Diverse macroinvertebrate community with many rare and sensitive species.
- Emerging signs of nutrient enrichment.
- Riparian vegetation mostly native species but some invasion by woody weeds.
About the location
Jupiter Creek is a small stream in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges. It drains agricultural lands and parts of Kuitpo Forest before discharging into Echunga Creek and then flowing into Mount Bold Reservoir. Forestry (49%) and livestock grazing (46%) are the main land uses in the catchment, with minor areas of native vegetation, horticulture and dairying.
The monitoring site was located two kilometres off Razor Back Road, about five kilometres southwest of Echunga near the junction of the two creeks.
The creek was given a Good rating at this site because the ecosystem showed evidence of relatively minor changes to its animal and plant life. However, there were some clear, emerging signs of nutrient enrichment, which could lead to further decline in the future.
A diverse community of 61 species of macroinvertebrates was collected from still pools found in the narrow stream in spring 2008. The community was dominated by species tolerant to pollution such as chironomids, snails and the tiny crustacean called a water scud (Austrochiltonia australis). However, many sensitive and rare species of mites, stoneflies, mayflies and caddisflies were also found.
The water was moderately fresh (salinity of 1,150 mg/L), well oxygenated (68% saturation) and clear, with low concentrations of nutrients such as nitrogen (0.34 mg/L), phosphorus (0.02 mg/L) and organic carbon (2.9 mg/L).
Large areas of buttercups (Ranunculus) were growing in the channel, with patches of submerged plants such as stonewort (Chara) and starwort (Callitriche stagnalis), and emergent plants such as introduced Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) and plantain (Plantago). Water Ribbons (Triglochin procerum), Common Reed (Phragmites australis), sedge (Isolepis) and rush (Juncus) were also found along the edges.
Stringybark gum trees grew over a range of native shrubs, woody weeds and groundcovers in the riparian zone. The surrounding vegetation at the site was mostly eucalypt woodland with tea-tree, acacias, paperbark and introduced grasses.
Special environmental features
Jupiter Creek provides habitat for a wide range of rarely collected mites (Hydrodroma, Oxidae, Procorticacarus, Recifella and Axonopsella), as well as three types of caddisflies (Hellyethira, Triplectides and Lectrides), a stonefly (Austrocerca tasmanica), mayflies (Koorrnonga inconspicua and Tasmanocoenis tillyardi) and larvae of the fly family Dixidae.
Pressures and management responses
|Livestock have direct access at the site and upstream, causing sediment erosion and adding excessive nutrients (which leads to habitat disturbance, algal growth and aquatic weeds).
|The Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board's land management program encourages and promotes managing land to improve water quality. This includes incentives for waterway and wetland fencing to exclude or limit stock from entering riparian zones.
|Limited riparian zone vegetation at the site and upstream, providing minimal buffer protection from catchment landuses (reducing habitat quality).
|The Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board’s land management program encourages and promotes managing land to improve water quality. This includes incentives for revegetation programs around waterways and wetlands and stock exclusion as well as educating landholders about the importance of riparian vegetation in managing soil erosion.
|Large decrease in natural water flows (reducing ecological integrity).
|Through water allocation planning the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board seeks to manage a sustainable water supply for the region so that there is enough water available for everyone (including the environment) even in drought conditions.
This aquatic ecosystem condition report is based on monitoring data collected by the EPA and prepared in conjunction with the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board.