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GEOLOGY, ECOLOGY, AND LANDSCAPES INWASCON https://doi.org/10.1080/24749508.2022.2134636 RESEARCH ARTICLE Groundwater quality and aquatic fauna of some wells and springs from Meknes area (Morocco) a,b b c b d El Moustaine Radouane , Chahlaoui Abdelkader , Khaffou Mhamed , Rour El Habib and Boulal Mokhtar Doctor in Hydrobiology and Biodiversity, Full Professor at the Ministry of National Education, Doctorate researcher attached to the Environment and Health Laboratory, Natural Resources Management and Valorization Team at the Faculty of Sciences of Meknes, Moulay Ismail University, Meknes, Morocco; Laboratory of Environment and Health, Natural Resources Management and Valorization Team, Faculty of Sciences, Moulay Ismail University, Meknes, Morocco; High School of Technology, Sultan Moulay Slimane University, Khénifra, Morocco; Centre Régional des Métiers de l’Education et de la Formation d’Inezgane, Inezgane, Maroc ABSTRACT ARTICLE HISTORY Received 1 December 2021 This work focuses on the Meknes aquifer, which constitutes the main water resource in the Accepted 7 October 2022 northern central region of Morocco. The groundwater fauna is to date largely unknown in the Meknes region. However, it contains many animal species, especially small crustaceans. The KEYWORDS study aimed to correlate the physico-chemical characteristics of wells and springs with the Stygofauna; water quality; aquatic fauna in these habitats. Two kinds of descriptors were used such as the physico- multivariate analysis; wells chemical analyses of water and faunistic sampling was consequently performed for one year and springs; Meknes at 10 stations. Multivariate analyses showed a significant difference between stations. The water quality, variable from one station to another, is undoubtedly not the fundamental determinant influencing the distribution of fauna. These results represent an important con- tribution to regional biodiversity and may influence mainly by local factors, especially the protection levels of the wells and springs. Among the subterranean crustaceans, species belonging to the genera Typhlocirolana, Maroccolana and Pseudoniphargus have never been described before. These results are a contribution to the knowledge of the regional biodiversity and suggest that biodiversity as well as the physico-chemical characteristics of the water could provide valuable ecological information on the groundwater ecosystems status. 1. Introduction groundwater ecosystems, both as a habitat of vulnerable biotic richness and as a provider of ecosystem functions Water is critical for sustainable development and is indis- (Boulton et al., 2008). The groundwater fauna is a living pensable for human health and well-being. Groundwater component that highly illustrates the quality of the sub- is the major source of water supply, and presently it is the terranean waters. A number of studies have demon- most valuable natural resource for various human activ- strated the applicability of groundwater fauna for ities (Prasad & Narayana, 2004), and everywhere ground- monitoring purposes related to any kind of disturbance water supply is developing and is important for everyday (i.e., water pollution; El Adnani et al., 2007; Boughrous human life (Griebler & Avramov, 2015). To provide safe et al., 2007a; Hahn, 2006; Khaldoun, Merzoug, Boutin drinking water, especially to rural populations, ground- et al., 2013a; Lagnika et al., 2016; Malard, Plénet et al., water has been sought as the source in many developing 1996b; Merzoug et al., 2010; Notenboom et al., 1994; and under-developed countries (Gordana et al., 2014). Zébazé Togouet et al., 2009, 2011). However, there is Environmental policy, and in particular, the European a growing argument around the need to consider the water legislation, in the framework of the EU stygofauna in groundwater quality assessment Groundwater Directive, has started to consider ground- (Khaldoun, Merzoug, Boutin et al., 2013a; Lagnika et al., water not only as a resource but as a living ecosystem. 2016; Merzoug et al., 2010). Whereas subterranean domains have long been consid- In Morocco, groundwater is an essential part of ered as species-poor environments, worldwide investiga- hydraulic heritage. Compared to surface water, they pre- tions reveal an unexpectedly high diversity of living forms sent definite advantages in terms of covering needs. in groundwater (Delamare Deboutteville, 1960). According to the High Commission for Planning Furthermore, groundwater can be recognized as (2006) estimates, there are 32 deep aquifers and more a complex ecosystem varying in structure, dimension, than 46 surface water tables. The mobilizable ground- and connectivity and harboring a vast and almost unrec- water resources are estimated at 4 billion m 3, unequally ognized diversity of groundwater fauna (Danielopol et al., 2003). Increasing recognition is being given to distributed in the different regions of Morocco. However, CONTACT El Moustaine Radouane email@example.com Doctor in Hydrobiology and Biodiversity, Full Professor at the Ministry of National Education, Doctorate researcher attached to the Environment and Health Laboratory, Natural Resources Management and Valorization Team at the Faculty of Sciences of Meknes, Moulay Ismail University, Meknes, Morocco © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group on behalf of the International Water, Air & Soil Conservation Society(INWASCON). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. 2 E. MOUSTAINE RADOUANE ET AL. groundwater in arid and semi-arid areas provides the and springs of the Meknes region as well as its relation to primary source to supply the populations with water, groundwater quality. and they are highly fundamental to social and economic development. 2. Material and methods Despite great strides in recent years, the true dimen- sion of groundwater biodiversity is largely underesti- 2.1. Study area and sampling sites mated, and the distribution of groundwater species at The study area is located in the northern central region of various spatial scales remains only sketchily understood Morocco, which is part of the major plain of Saïss. The (GIBERT & DEHARVENG, 2002). This situation stems climate can be considered semi-arid with a temperate from the still highly fragmentary knowledge of ground- winter but semi-continental, characterized by a cold water biodiversity as a whole, compared to the biodiver- rainy season from November through April and a hot sity of surface waters, and specifically from the limited dry period from May through October. Groundwater is number of studies that have analyzed the partitioning of flowing through the sands, conglomerates, and lime- groundwater biodiversity at different spatial scales stones in parts of the lacustrine Plio-Villafranchian. In (Martin et al., 2009). Indeed, it is important to emphasize the geological setting, the bedrock is mainly formed by the fact that the stygofauna biodiversity and distribution dolomites and limestones of the Lias, and locally by the show a high level of endemism (Coineau, 1971; Ferreira Triassic clays or shales Primary (Amraoui, 2005). et al., 2003). Local species diversity is low, but regional Ten sampling stations were selected, comprising two species diversity can be very high (Dole-Olivier et al., springs (designated S1 and S2) in the El Hajeb region and 2005; Ferreira et al., 2003). Endemism in groundwater, eight wells (designated W1 to W8 in the Meknes, on the other hand, is very common, and species are often Agourai, and Sebaa Aioun regions). These sites were restricted to a single aquifer or even a single-site location chosen in different areas, depending on the importance (Gibert et al., 2009). Studies and assessments show that, in of these water points for the local populations, with spite of the severity of the underground environment, a representative sampling in each study area. Most of stygobitic communities present an unexpected richness the 10 studied wells and springs are used for agricultural, (Danielopol, 1997). This richness, however, is very vari- domestic, and drinking purposes. As such, two of them able in space (regions) and stations (within a region) and (W1 and W2) were selected near the landfill, and the could be considered as a water quality indicator (El three others are distributed in the rural regions (W3, W4, Adnani et al., 2007; Boughrous et al., 2007a; Khaldoun, and W5). Except W6, W7, and W8, which are intended Merzoug, Boutin et al., 2013a; Lagnika et al., 2016; for domestic purposes, the other two springs are also used Merzoug et al., 2010; Zébazé Togouet et al., 2009, 2011). for supplying drinking water. These wells were selected In Africa, research on subterranean fauna has been according to their level of protection, in particular, the progressing in many countries, especially in North Africa presence or absence of a concrete slab. Figure 1 shows the (Ghlala et al., 2009; Merzoug et al., 2010), Belaidi et al. location of the selected stations, and the characteristics of (2010–2011), (Khaldoun, Merzoug, Boutin et al., 2013b). 10 studied stations have been given in Table 1. However, the Moroccan groundwater fauna was still poorly known until the beginning of the eighties (Balazuc & Ruffo, 1953; Pesce et al., 1981). More systema- 2.2. Water and faunal samplings tic stygobiological investigations were recently per- formed, first in the Marrakesh region (Boulanouar, Groundwater samples were collected monthly from eight 1995; Boutin, 1984; Ghamizi, 1998; Hallam, 2011; shallow wells and two springs located in the Meknes Messouli, 1994; Yacoubi-Khebiza, 1996), then in other region, from February 2013 to January 2014. For physical parts of Morocco: Goulmima (Benazouz, 1983), Tiznit and chemical analyses, samples were stored in 500 ml (Boulal, 1988), Guelmim (Boutin & Idbennacer, 1989; polyethylene bottles. The bottled samples were immedi- Idebenacer, 1990), the Rifian region (Fakher El Abiari, ately transported to the laboratory and kept in an ice-box 1999), and Errachidia (Aït Boughrous, 2007b). A recent at a temperature of 4°C for subsequent analysis. The synopsis revealed the presence of nearly 172 stygobiotic samples were analyzed for 13 parameters, namely pH, species, four of which are listed for the Saiss basin in the temperature (T°), electrical conductivity (EC) were mea- northern central part of Morocco (El Alami El Filali, sured in situ using the Consort 933 portable analyzer and 2010), reflecting a low sampling effort in the groundwater 2+ 2 dissolved oxygen (O ), calcium (Ca ), magnesium (Mg of the Saıss basin. However, the groundwater domain in 2 + − 2− the Meknes area and its organisms are still largely ), chloride (Cl ), sulphates (SO ), ammonical nitrogen − − unknown (El Moustaine et al., 2013, 2014). The aim of (NH –N), nitrate (NO ), nitrite (NO ), orthopho- 4 3 2 3− − this first contribution is to focus on the study of the sphate (PO ), and hydrogencarbonate (HCO ) were 4 3 biodiversity of the subterranean aquatic fauna in wells measured by the methods proposed in (Rodier et al., GEOLOGY, ECOLOGY, AND LANDSCAPES 3 Figure 1. Location of the 10 studied stations in the Meknes area. Table 1. Characteristics of the 10 studied stations (S = station; De = depth; D = diameter of the well; Pl = piezometric level). Source of S Latitude Longitude D (m) De (m) Pl Use Protection pollution W1 33°56’.3581 N 005°33’.5641O 1,6 14 9 Agricultural purposes Unprotected Waste water W2 33°56’.3913 N 005°33’.5391O 1,3 25 2 Agricultural purposes Unprotected Waste water W3 33°38’.4170 N 005°34’.5319O 1,7 25 16 Agricultural purposes Protected Manure and wastes W4 33°38’.4240 N 005°35’.5256O 1 18 4 Agricultural purposes Protected Manure and wastes W5 33°39ʹ075 N 005°35’.206O 1,2 24 8 Drinking water Protected Manure and wastes W6 33°54’.956 N 005°23ʹ779 O 1,5 26 3 Domestic purposes Unprotected Manure and wastes W7 33°54’.259 N 005°23’.149 O 0,8 27 4 Domestic purposes Unprotected Manure and wastes W8 33°53’.5463 N 005°23’.109 O 1,4 30 12 Domestic purposes Unprotected Manure and wastes S1 33°41’.1294 N 005°22’.3413O - - - Drinking water Unprotected Manure and wastes S2 33°41’.755 N 005°22’.2397O - - - Drinking water Unprotected Manure and wastes 2009). All the chemical constituents are expressed in mg/l developed by Boutin and Boulanouar (Boutin & Boulanouar, 1983). The traps were set in contact with (milligrams/liter) except pH. the bottom for 16 hours. Also, the fauna of springs was The fauna of wells was collected in each well with two sampled with a net settled at the source when stringing types of sampling equipment: (1) a phreatobiological net the sediments just upstream from the water emergence. sampler (Figure 2) 20 cm in diameter at the opening, Fauna samples were first fixed in the field with 7% for- composed of a cone filter with a 150 μm mesh, drawn up malin for conservation, and then, after washing and 10 times in each well through the entire water column, sorting in the laboratory, where they were examined which was of different depths in the various wells (Bou, and identified to the lowest taxonomical level possible 1974; Cvetkov, 1968). (2) a Baited trap (Figure 3) 4 E. MOUSTAINE RADOUANE ET AL. Figure 3. Baited trap. between measured chemical variables and their multi- variate patterns based upon the correlation or covar- iance matrix (Helena, 2000). Then, to detect spatial similarity among groups, HA was applied to the 10 Figure 2. Phreatobiological net. sampling sites. The Ward’s method was applied (link- age between groups), Euclidean distance as similarity measure and synthesized in dendrograms. The results using published and informal keys. The determinations are illustrated by dendrograms. of most of the zoological taxonomic groups were per- The tables given (Table 1 and Table 2) are showing formed or checked by a specialist of some group and the the annual mean of each physico-chemical descriptor. number of individuals of each taxon was recorded, by Table 2 is showing the collected fauna; abundance and identifying our material, in particular N. Coineau and taxonomic richness were calculated. In this study, the C. Boutin. results of all samples are statistically analyzed by using the software STATISTICA 2007 (version 8.0). 2.3. Statistical analysis Water quality and faunal data sets were subjected to 3. Results multivariate analysis: principal component analysis 3.1. Water physico-chemical variables (PCA) and cluster analysis (by using a Hierarchical Clustering HA) were performed for the two sets of The variation of the mean physic-chemical data descriptors respectively. PCA is designed to transform between the stations/locations (Table 2). Mean water the original variables into new, uncorrelated variables temperature ranged from 16°C to 18°C. In fact, the (axes), called the principal components, which are mean temperature of water in the wells varied from linear combinations of the original variables 17.07°C to 18.25°C, while in the springs S1 and S2 (Shrestha & Kazama, 2007). This statistical method varied from 16.78°C to 17.02°C. Conductivity was has many advantages over classical graphical high with values reaching 14,422 µS/cm in W1. The approaches as it takes into consideration a huge lowest value was obtained in S1 (544.50 µS/cm). The amount of spatial and temporal data of water quality. pH ranged from 6.99 to 7.31, with the lowest mean The main advantage of this method is the reduction of value (6.99) measured in spring S1. variables dimension by providing the correlation GEOLOGY, ECOLOGY, AND LANDSCAPES 5 Table 2. Mean values of the physical-chemical variables of water from the 10 stations studied (W = wells; S = springs) in Meknes region. − − + 2- 3- 2+ 2+ − − T EC O NO NO NH SO PO Ca Mg Cl HCO 2 3 2 4 4 4 3 Variables ° C pH µs/cm mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L mg/L Stations W1 18.25 7.06 14,422.00 2.72 16.01 0.023 0.900 193.80 0.234 226.67 63.00 4153.2 83.26 W2 17.66 7.31 1405.17 4.95 15.97 0.560 1.826 54.98 0.187 113.67 55.17 206.71 102.17 W3 18.03 7.26 760.50 8.33 20.25 0.027 0.166 64.33 0.329 255.67 200.33 61.62 163.39 W4 18.09 7.08 950.50 6.81 34.55 0.023 0.184 102.60 0.232 296.00 139.33 81.43 203.33 W5 17.35 6.99 134.17 7.54 14.48 0.018 0.098 71.54 0.093 377.17 188.25 148.50 197.13 W6 18.17 7.28 790.00 8.33 34.46 0.145 0.338 7.59 0.215 248.08 135.83 57.52 151.24 W7 17.76 7.26 642.00 4.57 35.43 0.132 0.034 8.42 0.091 214.33 84.33 43.95 139.39 W8 17.07 7.28 708.17 8.29 33.11 0.125 0.022 46.40 0.006 233.87 96.98 43.59 151.38 S1 16.78 7.00 544.50 5.34 2.08 0.073 0.310 37.38 0.003 219.17 135.83 22.18 190.50 S2 17.02 7.02 560.33 8.71 2.44 0.003 0.171 60.87 0.158 178.50 109.67 25.28 147.34 − − + 2− 3− T° = Temperature; EC = electrical conductivity; O = dissolved oxygen; NO = nitrates; NO = nitrites; NH = ammonium; SO = sulphates; PO 2 3 2 4 4 4 2+ 2+ − − = orthophosphate; Ca = calcium; Mg = magnesium; Cl = chloride and HCO = bicarbonates. The nitrite and ammonia content, mg/L, in water In space variables in Figure 4, the first factor F1 samples, indicated that all the sampled comprised the takes high positive correlation for the dissolved oxy- − + best quality water with respect to NO and NH level gen, magnesium, and bicarbonates on the positive side 2 4 (<3 and 1.5 respec. mg/L) as recommended by and correlated negatively with dissolved oxygen, elec- Moroccan’s drinking water guideline (NM 03.7.001, trical conductivity, phosphates, and ammonium; can 2006). Nitrate ions (NO ) concentration was surpris- be called the salt pollution axis because contains high ingly high in W3 (with some 20 mg/L) and moreover conductivity and inorganic salts. The second factor F2 in W4, W6, W7, and W8 water which contained some reveals an opposition between sulphate and calcium 34 mg/L of NO , the ions concentrations were nor- negatively correlated with the axis, and pH and nitrite mal in the other station (inferior or equal to 16 mg/L positively correlated with the same axis. of NO ). According to the Moroccan drinking water The hierarchical classification of the stations result- standards (NM 03.7.001, 2006), water quality requires ing from the PCA (Figure 5) obtained from the phy- a level of 200 mg/L sulphate; the majority of stations sico-chemical variables allowed, to identify three had concentrations below this value. Phosphate ions groups of stations, clearly separated, both on factorial 3- (PO ) was generally low, inferior to 0.2 mg/L in the planes F1-F2. wells W2, W5, W7, W8 and springs S1, S2, except in -The first group: this group brings together the W1, W3, W4, and W6 waters higher than 0.2 mg/L majority of the studied stations and contains stations had the concentration that not exceeds the acceptable W3, W4, W6, W7, W8 and two springs S1, S2. Except Moroccan’s drinking water guideline limit of 0.5 mg/L W6, W7 and W8, water of these stations is globally low (NM 03.7.001, 2006). The chloride concentration also in mineral content and without important nitrogen varied from one station to another (from 22.18 mg/L pollution. In general, the physico-chemical parameters in springs S1 and 43.59 in wells W8 to 4153.2 mg/L in of water from these stations present the characteristics W1) not exceeded Moroccan standards for drinking of natural water conditions that are related to the water (750 mg/L) except for wells W1. The dissolved geological nature of the substrate and climatological oxygen values varied from 2.72 to 8.33 mg/L. The factors in the region. bicarbonate (HCO ) concentration varied from 83 -The second group: is composed of samples W2 to 203 mg/L with mean values of 152.91 mg/L. For and W5, with high pH and relatively polluted water, 2+ 2+ Mg and Ca , magnesium varied from 55.17 to characterized by two high values of the two parameters − − 188.25 mg/L and calcium ranged from 113.67 to nitrite (NO ) and bicarbonates ions (HCO ), which 2 3 377.17 mg/L. have a moderate mineralization. -The third group: This group contains a single well, W1. This well is characterized by simultaneous high 3.2. Spatial similarities and grouping of sample values of electrical conductivity (14,422. µS/cm) and sites (principal component analysis and cluster sulphate ions concentration (193.80 mg/L). analysis) In this study, principal component analysis (PCA) was 3.3. Faunal data performed using 13 groundwater quality parameters − − +, 2- 3− (EC, pH, T°, O , NO , NO , NH SO , PO , The fauna of the wells and springs in the Meknes 2 2 3 4 4 4 −, 2+ 2+ − Cl Ca , Mg , and HCO ) for 10 individuals (the aquifer is dominated by epigean taxa (67% of all sampled stations) of Table 1. The preserved two fac- taxa). The fauna collected in Meknes area was tors represent 63.4% of total samples variance (38.41% diversified and consisted of 18 taxa (Table 3). The for F1 and 24.99% for F2). richest communities were recorded in wells W4 6 E. MOUSTAINE RADOUANE ET AL. Figure 4. Projections of physico-chemical parameters of the 10 water samples on the plane of the two first axes of the PCA. Figure 5. Dendrogram showing the hierarchical classification of the 10 stations obtained from the mean values of water characteristics given in Table 2. with seven species and the poorest in W1, with Dugesia gonocephala was the most abundant species only one species. The fauna collected in five sta- encountered in the samples, reaching 123 indivi- tions presented a diversity of more than 6 species duals in W7 and the most frequent in W8. (W4, W5, W6 and two springs S1, S2) while in five Collembola and Chironomus sp. We’re also rare, wells the diversity was less than five species (W1, but collected in two wells (W3 and W4). The W2, W3, P7 and W8). However, W3, W4, W5 and Melanopsis praemorsa were the most frequent S1, S2 showed the highest aquatic taxonomic rich- organisms, observed in two springs. ness and stygobiontic species were observed only in Pseudoniphargus sp. was collected in two wells wells W4, W5 and the two springs S1 and S2. with two different species in wells W4 and W5. GEOLOGY, ECOLOGY, AND LANDSCAPES 7 Table 3. List and abundance of taxa collected in the 10 stations studied (W = wells; S = springs) in Meknes region (*Stygobiotic). Taxa W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 S1 S2 Plathelminta Dugesia gonocephala 123 201 Oligochaeta Naididae und. 5 Tubifex tubifex 4 Gastropoda Guistia gofasi* 4 3 2 Melanopsis praemorsa 89 49 Copepoda Cyclopodes und. 5 4 15 23 Cyclopodes und. * 7 35 56 5 9 Isopoda Typhlocirolana sp.* 11 8 Maroccolana sp .* 7 9 Amphipoda Pseudoniphargus sp1.* 4 3 Pseudoniphargus sp2.* 3 5 Gammarus sp 6 9 Ostracoda Ostracodes und. 7 Insecta Collembola 7 12 9 7 Chironomus sp. 123 65 Dytiscus sp. 4 19 2 Culex culex 125 83 Taxa und 6 5 4 Total taxonomic richness 1 2 6 7 6 1 5 3 6 6 Stygobiotic taxa* 0 0 1 5 4 1 1 0 1 1 Among the hypogean taxa, four were crustaceans taxa allowed, to identify three groups of stations, regrouping Copepoda, Ostracoda, two types of clearly separated, both on factorial planes F1-F2. Isopoda and two of Amphipoda with Pseudoniphargus -The first group: It includes two wells (W7 and (sp1. and sp2.). Oligochaeta were rare and represented W8). These two wells have the low taxonomic rich- by Tubifex tubifex and Naididae und. The taxonomic ness: three or four taxa were collected, including one richness varied between 1 and 7 taxa with a mean of 4.3 stygobitic taxa. taxa per station. Stygobionts were present in wells W3, -The second group: This group includes the major- W4, W5, W6, W7 and two springs S1, S2. Five stygobi- ity of stations and contains W3, W4, W5, W6 and two tic taxa were recorded in Meknes stations and this springs S1, S2. Each well delivered less than 7 taxa, richness varied from 1 (well W3) to 5 (well W4). including occasionally some stygobitic taxa varying from 1 to 5. Compared to that of group 1, the taxo- nomic and stygobitic richness are higher. 3.4. Distribution relationship between different -The third group: This group contains two wells stations taxa and faunistic typology of stations (W1 and W2). These wells are characterized by the complete absence of stygobitic taxa and a quite low A principal component analysis and the hierarchical total taxonomic richness, not exceeding two taxa. classification separate three groups of organisms as pre- sented on Figures 6 and 7. These organisms are separated on the two first axes planes. The preserved two factors 4. Discussion represent 51.17% of total samples variance (29.09% for 4.1. Water quality F1 and 22.08% for F2; Figure 6). The first axis opposed mainly aquatic species including stygobiontic organisms The temperature recorded during this study was simi- of groups 1, correlated on the negative side with lar to that obtained in Marrakesh region and in Tiznit. Pseudoniphargus (sp1. and sp2.), Typhlocirolana sp. and The difference between each station was usually less Maroccolana sp ., to the mainly terrestrial organisms of than 2°C; this thermal constant is similar to those group 2 and 3, while axis 2 possibly expressed the differ - found previously (Boulanouar, 1995) and (Boulal, ence in the tolerance of different organisms to the level of 2002; Boulal, 2002). Suggests that groundwater organ- pollution. All taxa with a high positive correlation in the isms may not be sensitive to variation in water two first factors are epigean, specially the second axis. temperature. Most of the stygobionts (4) are at the opposite of the last In the study area pH values close to neutrality. four taxa on the first factor. Groundwater conductivity values were generally The hierarchical classification of the stations result- higher in wells W1 and W2, resulting from the high − − 2+ 2 + + ing from the PCA (Figure 6) obtained from the fauna concentrations of Cl , HCO , Ca , and Mg . NH 3 4 8 E. MOUSTAINE RADOUANE ET AL. Figure 6. Projections of the sampled taxa from 10 stations, on the two first axes of the PCA. concentrations varied from one station to another but contributing to the stability of NH . When the sta- generally by less than 0.9 mg/L. A maximum value of tions were not polluted by different refuses and gar- 1.8 mg/L is recorded in the waters from well P2; this bage, they showed a chemical pollution of water, could be due to the low concentration of dissolved including slightly levels of ammonium and phosphate oxygen (4.95 mg/L) in the waters of this well, leading concentrations, and inducing a high conductivity. to the anaerobic microbial conditions that are These results recall the conclusion of Belghiti et al. Figure 7. Dendrogram of the hierarchical classification of the 10 stations, showing three clusters of groundwater quality in the study area described by their fauna given in Table 3. GEOLOGY, ECOLOGY, AND LANDSCAPES 9 Figure 8. A selection of some stygobiotic taxa from Meknes region (Pictures by El mousatine). (Belghiti et al., 2013, 2013a) which clearly demon- stygobionts were found in wells. However, stygobionts strated a high level of organical pollution of the were represented by four taxa: Isopoda Cirolanidae Meknes groundwater. These authors showed the (Typhlocirolana sp. and Maroccolana sp.) and high vulnerability of this water, which is used by Amphipoda (Pseudoniphargus sp1. and sp2.). populations for domestic duties and unfortunately Specimens of all these Stygobionts were without eyes also as drinking water. The effects of pollution were and pigment (Figure 8). Moreover, stygobitic cirolanid weak in springs, compared to the levels observed in isopods collected in wells W4 and W5 is mainly repre- wells. Even though there was a considerable variation sented by the genus Typhlocirolana sp. (Cirolanidae), between the sites, nitrate was the most abundant form which coexists in the wells with Maroccolana sp. of dissolved inorganic nitrogen in all stations. In par- (Cirolanidae) species collected with lower abundance. ticular, high nitrate concentrations measured in W6, The coexistence of these two species is related to the W7, and W8 confirms the contamination of aquifers particle size of the sediment, which provides favorable mainly caused by the excessive use of fertilizers. conditions for the establishment of a large fauna Among the three wells with high nitrate values, were (Boutin, 1984). One taxa of Gammaridae, was recorded in the rural districts. recorded in two springs S1 and S2. However, no sty- The slightly content of bicarbonate in the Meknes gobitic Gammaridae were collected in our samples. groundwater is closely related to natural dissolution of The mean taxonomic richness in the 10 stations is soil and rock. In wells W3 and W5, the water was lower than that observed in the other regions of slightly hard, but had no major effect on human Morocco, e.g., by Boutin and Dias (Boutin & Dias, 2+ health; the major source of Ca in the groundwater 1987) at Marrakech (a mean of 12 species in 11 is due to ion exchange of minerals from rocks of this wells), by Boulal (Boulal, 1988) in Tiznit region in 2+ area. Mg may probably have been derived from the the northern Anti-atlas (a mean of 14 species in 10 2+ same source as that of Ca . This peculiarity, very wells) and by Boutin and Idbennacer (Boutin & likely related to the nature of rocks and soils of the Idbennacer, 1989) in the southern Anti-atlas (a mean region was already observed by Belghiti et al. (Belghiti of 10.8 species in 7 wells). Few invertebrate taxa were et al., 2013, 2013a). found in this study. In total, six species of crustaceans and seven higher taxa were detected. We just provide here a first contribution focuses at the Meknes region 4.2. Groundwater fauna stygobitic richness as not much attention has been given so far to this research field. In total, 18 taxa were found, constituting five taxo- nomic groups such as crustaceans, oligochaets, Plathelmintes, gastropods, and insects. 4.3. Stygofauna relationship with water Approximately 80% of the faunal samples were com- physico-chemical quality posed of crustaceans, comprising 8 species. Furthermore, all crustacean species were assigned to Comparing the groups of wells obtained from the two two ecological groups – stygobionts (= true ground- types of descriptors (Figures 3 and 5), it is clearly water organisms) and non-stygobionts. Out of 10 observed that: stations groups obtained in the two groundwater monitoring wells sampled, fauna were analyses are slightly different. Well W1 whose water absent in only three wells. The sampled organisms is mineralized with high nitrogen pollution (ammo- were epigeous and often originated from other ecosys- nium; Figure 3) is found among wells having no sty- tems. Except for four groups (Plathelminta, gobiont fauna (Figure 5). In a group formed with wells Oligochaeta, Insecta and Gastropoda), all sampled W3, W4, W6, W7, W8 and two springs S1, S2, the species belong to the Crustacea (Ostracoda, water was good (Figure 3). Well P5 had the high Copepoda, Amphipoda, and Isopoda). Most of the number of stygobitic taxa (5); however, in well W2 10 E. MOUSTAINE RADOUANE ET AL. the ammonium concentration was high and exceeded exceeds the Moroccan drinking water standards the Moroccan’s drinking water guideline, but no sty- levels in some groundwater samples indicate that, gobitic species recorded in this well, those wells were there are possibility that the water samples are in the same group including the less polluted stations. contaminated. It is recommended that all the In a similar study performed in Morocco (Boulal et al., groundwater resources in the Meknes area are 1997; Boutin, 1984; Boutin & Idbennacer, 1989) and in treated appropriately in order to ensure that Algeria (Merzoug et al., 2010), the authors clearly they are safe for consumption. showed a similarity among groups of wells obtained ● The hierarchical classification of the stations with the two types of descriptors. The result of this resulting from the principal component analysis study is in accordance with previous knowledge. was used for the physico-chemical parameters While some authors have shown that stygobitic taxa and for faunal data. For faunal data and physico- could be used as indicators of water quality chemical parameters consistent correlations were (Boughrous et al., 2007a; Boulanouar, 1995; Fakher found. Amongst the parameters indicators of et al., 1998). This was indicated in the literature, sug- water pollution was correlated to species richness gesting that groundwater fauna can be used as sensi- and especially the stygofauna; almost the same tive indicators of aquifer contamination, for example groups of stations obtained from the two types of (Boulton, 2000; Malard, Plenet et al., 1996a; Malard descriptors. In conclusion, the present study has et al., 1994; Notenboom et al., 1994). Indeed, the use of shown that the main determinants of stygobitic the stygofauna as a very cheap tool for monitoring the biodiversity are linked to water quality. global quality of well water used by human popula- tions in the rural zones of Maghreb countries, will be Acknowledgments possible as soon as the diversity of this fauna will be known (Boutin & Dias, 1987; Fakher El Abiari, 1999). The authors sincerely thank the reviewers and editors. Anyway, this is the first work concerning the field of research in this region and the results suggested that Disclosure statement much more effort need to be done. It is generally admitted that stygofauna is rich and diverse in the No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s). Meknes area. The presence of two different species of Pseudoniphargus suggested that this part of the Morocco country may have its own stygofauna and ORCID that there are probably much more stygobionts to be El Moustaine Radouane http://orcid.org/0000-0002- discovered during further surveys of other regions in 0835-7771 the plain of Saiss. References 5. Conclusions Aït Boughrous, A. (2007b). Biodiversité, écologie et qualité The results of this study showed that the groundwater des eaux souterraines de deux régions arides du Maroc: fauna and water quality performed in the Meknes Le Tafilalet et la région de Marrakech, Thèse de doctorat, region has allowed us to draw the following Fac. Sc. 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Geology Ecology and Landscapes – Taylor & Francis
Published: Oct 29, 2022
Keywords: Stygofauna; water quality; multivariate analysis; wells and springs; Meknes
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