Characterisation of spatial variability in water quality in the Great Barrier Reef catchments using multivariate statistical analysis

S. Liu, D. Ryu, J. A. Webb, A. Lintern, D. Waters, D. Guo, A. W. Western

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Water quality monitoring is important to assess changes in inland and coastal water quality. The focus of this study was to improve understanding of the spatial component of spatial-temporal water quality dynamics, particularly the spatial variability in water quality and the association between this spatial variability and catchment characteristics. A dataset of nine water quality constituents collected from 32 monitoring sites over a 11-year period (2006–2016), across the Great Barrier Reef catchments (Queensland, Australia), were evaluated by multivariate techniques. Two clusters were identified, which were strongly associated with catchment characteristics. A two-step Principal Component Analysis/Factor Analysis revealed four groupings of constituents with similar spatial pattern and allowed the key catchment characteristics affecting water quality to be determined. These findings provide a more nuanced view of spatial variations in water quality compared with previous understanding and an improved basis for water quality management to protect nearshore marine ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-151
Number of pages15
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Catchment characteristics
  • Great Barrier Reef catchments
  • Land use
  • Multivariate analysis
  • Water quality

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