Xinfengjiang River, the largest tributary of Dongjiang River, plays a key role in the water supply of Heyuan, Huizhou, Guangzhou and even the Pearl River urban agglomeration. It is crucial to determine the pollution status, potential ecological risk degree of heavy metals in Xinfengjiang river sediment and their influence on the abundance of fish species. In this paper, seven heavy metal concentrations in sediment from the Heyuan section of the Xinfengjiang river were investigated. The order of average concentration was: As > Zn > Pb > Cr > Cu > Cd > Hg. The average concentrations of Cd, Zn and Cu in the upper reaches of the Xinfengjiang Reservoir were significantly higher than those in the reservoir. The mean value order of Igeo was: Cd > Zn > Pb > As > Cu > Cr > Hg. Cd and As had the highest ecological risk index and the greatest threat to the ecological environment. Pearson correlation analysis and principal component analysis demonstrated that the pollution source of heavy metals such as Cu and Cd are much more likely to originate from the mine fields located in the northeast of the sampling sites. In addition, agriculture, electronic industry and domestic sewage also contributed to the concentration of heavy metals in different degrees. Redundancy analysis showed that the abundance of Cypriniformes was negatively correlated with Cu and Cd concentrations, suggesting that mining activities might indirectly affect the abundance of fish species.
Keywords: ecological risk; fish species; heavy metal; sediment.