Many estuaries are becoming increasingly eutrophic from human activities within their catchments. Nutrient loads often are used to assess risk of eutrophication to estuaries, but such data are expensive and time consuming to obtain. We compared the percent of fertilized land within a catchment, dissolved inorganic nitrogen loads, catchment to estuary area ratio and flushing time as predictors of the proportion of macroalgae to total vegetation within 14 estuaries in south-eastern Australia. The percent of fertilized land within the catchment was the best predictor of the proportion of macroalgae within the estuaries studied. There was a transition to a dominance of macroalgae once the proportion of fertilized land in the catchment exceeded 24%, highlighting the sensitivity of estuaries to catchment land use.
- Land use