The impact of tourism on dune lakes on Fraser Island, Australia

Authors

  • Wade L. Hadwen,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Catchment and In-Stream Research and Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism, Griffith University, Nathan Campus, Queensland 4111, Australia and
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  • Angela H. Arthington,

    1. Centre for Catchment and In-Stream Research and Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism, Griffith University, Nathan Campus, Queensland 4111, Australia and
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  • Thorsten D. Mosisch

    1. Water Quality Unit, Australian Water Quality Centre, South Australian Water, Private Mail Bag 3, Salisbury, South Australia 5108, Australia
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*Corresponding author. Email: w.hadwen@mailbox.gu.edu.au

Abstract

In view of the increasing tourism to Fraser Island, Queensland, a tourist pressure index (TPI) was developed to assess the potential threat of tourism to 15 of the most accessible dune lakes on the island. Tourist pressure index scores indicated that the two clear lakes on the island, Lake McKenzie and Lake Birrabeen, are most threatened by tourist activities owing to their accessibility, facilities and prominence in advertising campaigns. In addition, limnological investigations of the same 15 lakes were conducted in February 1999 to determine their current trophic status and potential susceptibility to adverse impacts from tourism, particularly with reference to eutrophication. On the basis of nutrient and chlorophyll a concentrations, the two water table window lakes, Ocean Lake and Lake Wabby, were classed as mesotrophic and oligo-mesotrophic, while all of the perched dune lakes were oligotrophic. Lake McKenzie and Lake Birrabeen, the two most threatened lakes according to TPI scores, had the lowest nutrient concentrations of all of the lakes examined and, consequently, we suggest that nutrient additions might elicit rapid algal growth responses in these systems. Comparisons between current data and historical data from Arthington et al. (1990) indicate that increases in planktonic chlorophyll a concentrations were not always directly mirrored by increases in total phosphorus concentrations. We found that while chlorophyll a concentrations were significantly higher in the 1999 samples than in the 1990 samples for all lakes, total phosphorus concentrations were higher in Ocean Lake, lower in Lake Jennings and similar in lakes McKenzie, Birrabeen and Wabby.

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