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Fecal source tracking methods to elucidate critical sources of pathogens and contaminant microbial transport through New Zealand agricultural watersheds – A review

Abstract

In New Zealand, there is substantial potential for microbial contaminants from agricultural fecal sources to be transported into waterways. The flow and transport pathways for fecal contaminants vary at a range of scales and is dependent on chemical, physical and biological attributes of pathways, soils, microorganisms and landscape characteristics. Understanding contaminant transport pathways from catchment to stream can aid water management strategies. It is not practical, however to conduct direct field measurement for all catchments on the fate and transport of fecal pathogens due to constraints on time, personnel, and material resources. To overcome this problem, fecal source tracking can be utilised to link catchment characteristics to fecal signatures identifying critical sources. In this article, we have reviewed approaches to identifying critical sources and pathways for fecal microorganisms from agricultural sources, and make recommendations for the appropriate use of these fecal source tracking (FST) tools.

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