Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2024-29
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2024-29
03 Apr 2024
 | 03 Apr 2024
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Temporal shift of groundwater fauna in South-West Germany

Fabien Koch, Philipp Blum, Heide Stein, Andreas Fuchs, Hans Jürgen Hahn, and Kathrin Menberg

Abstract. Groundwater is an important source of freshwater, drinking water and service water for irrigation, industrial and geothermal uses and the largest terrestrial freshwater biome of the world. In many areas, this habitat is naturally or anthropogenically threatened. This study uses long-term groundwater data from South-West Germany to identify shifts in groundwater fauna due to natural or anthropogenic impacts. Comprehensive analysis of metazoan groundwater fauna and abiotic parameters from 16 monitoring wells over two decades revealed no overall temporal trends for fauna abundance, biodiversity in terms of number of species, as well as no significant large-scale trends in abiotic parameters. While nine wells out of 16 show stable ecological and hydro-chemical conditions at a local level, the remaining wells exhibit shifting or fluctuating faunal parameters. At some locations, these temporal changes are linked to natural causes, such as decreasing dissolved oxygen contents or fluctuating temperatures. A multivariate PHATE (Potential of Heat-diffusion for Affinity-based Trajectory Embedding)-analysis suggests that, beside the hydrogeological setting, varying contents of sediment and detritus impact faunal abundance. By examining aerial images of the surroundings of individual wells, we found that anthropogenic impacts, such as construction sites, can cause significant shifts in groundwater fauna and changes in the ecological status. However, variable faunal composition and abundances were also observed for sites with very stable abiotic conditions in anthropogenically less affected areas. These findings indicate that hydro(geo)logical changes and surface conditions, such as land use, should be assessed in line with hydro-chemical parameters to better understand changes in groundwater fauna. Accordingly, reference sites for natural conditions in ecological assessment and biomonitoring schemes for groundwater protection should be selected carefully.

Fabien Koch, Philipp Blum, Heide Stein, Andreas Fuchs, Hans Jürgen Hahn, and Kathrin Menberg

Status: open (until 29 May 2024)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2024-29', Anonymous Referee #1, 17 Apr 2024 reply
Fabien Koch, Philipp Blum, Heide Stein, Andreas Fuchs, Hans Jürgen Hahn, and Kathrin Menberg
Fabien Koch, Philipp Blum, Heide Stein, Andreas Fuchs, Hans Jürgen Hahn, and Kathrin Menberg

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Short summary
In this study, we identify shifts in groundwater fauna due to natural or human impacts over two decades. We find no overall temporal and large-scale trends for fauna and abiotic parameters. However, at a local level, six monitoring wells show shifting or fluctuating faunal parameters. Our findings indicate that changes in surface conditions should be assessed in line with hydro-chemical parameters to better understand changes in groundwater fauna and to obtain reliable biomonitoring results.