Diurnal variability of water temperature, pH and DO in the underground type fish shelter
A water quality study was carried out on 40 irrigation ponds located within the main greenhouse areas on the Almería coast, placing special emphasis on the factors controlling the oxygen dynamics, a relevant aspect with agricultural and environmental implications. Considering chemical, physical and biological water characteristics, agricultural irrigation ponds were satisfactorily classified by cluster analysis in four groups. These were congruently arranged by principal components analysis along four main environmental gradients: trophic status, photosynthetic activity, water mineralisation and presence of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). Dissolved oxygen (DO) values differed highly among and within each of the four pond groups. DO dynamics was mainly depended on photosynthetic activity, and the environmental factors and management practices controlling it: seasonal and daily climatic changes, pond management (open vs. covered ponds and presence/absence of aquatic vegetation) and trophic status. Overall, different diurnal DO patterns were found between open and covered ponds. The former usually presented DO values above saturation and increasingly higher from early morning to mid-afternoon due to the photosynthetic activity of algae and macrophytic vegetation. In contrast, covered ponds showed relatively stable DO values during the diurnal period regardless of climatic conditions, with absolute values around or below saturation level. Globally, our results suggest that open ponds, with macrophytes concentrated in the deeper layer, can be an effective and sustainable management method of water oxygen enrichment.