Water quality analysis based on phytoplankton and metal indices: a case study in the Sauce Grande River Basin (Argentina)

Josefina Zunino, Noelia S. La Colla, Andrea S. Brendel, Maria B. Alfonso, Sandra E. Botté, Gerardo M.E. Perillo, Maria C. Piccolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increasing landscape alterations due to anthropogenic activities is of global concern since it affects aquatic ecosystems, often resulting in compromise of the ecological integrity and the water quality. In this sense, the evaluation, monitoring, and prediction of the aquatic ecosystem quality becomes an important research subject. This study presents the first integrated water quality assessment of the Sauce Grande River Basin, in Argentina, based on the spatial distribution of the phytoplankton community, the physicochemical parameters, and the metal concentrations (Cd, Cu, Cr, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn) found in the particulate fraction. According to the trophic indices and the phytoplankton abundance, composition, and diversity, the water quality showed significant deterioration in the lower basin after the Sauce Grande lake. The trophic state index indicated that water was oligotrophic in over 75% of the sampling sites, increasing downstream, where two sites were characterized as mesotrophic, and one described as hypertrophic. The phytoplankton community was dominated by diatoms in zones with low anthropogenic impact and conductivity, whereas high densities of Euglenophyta, Chlorophyta, and Cyanobacteria were found in the middle-lower basin, associated with higher organic matter and eutrophication. The conductivity, turbidity, and most metal concentrations also increased towards the downstream area, even exceeding recommended levels for the metals Cu, Cr, Mn, and Pb in the middle and lower reaches of the basin (Cu: 3.5 µg L−1; Cr: 2.4 µg L−1; Pb: 1.2 µg L−1; Mn 170 µg L−1). This study generates a database for the water quality of the Sauce Grande River Basin and sets an example of how the water quality varies along a basin that crosses different topographic environments, land covers, and anthropogenic influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79053-79066
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number52
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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