Ecological quality scales based on phytoplankton for the implementation of Water Framework Directive in the Eastern Mediterranean

Spatharis, S. and Tsirtsis, G. (2010) Ecological quality scales based on phytoplankton for the implementation of Water Framework Directive in the Eastern Mediterranean. Ecological Indicators, 10(4), pp. 840-847. (doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2010.01.005)

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Structural changes of phytoplankton communities, often expressed through ecological indices, constitute one of the metrics for the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD). In the current study a thorough analysis of the efficiency of 22 ecological indices was performed and a small number was selected for the development of five-level water quality scales (High, Good, Moderate, Poor, and Bad). The analysis was performed on simulated communities free of the noise of field communities due to uncontrolled factors or stochastic processes. Two criteria were set for the sensitivity of indices, namely their monotonicity and linearity across the studied eutrophication spectrum. The whole procedure was based on the development of a five-level quality assessment scheme based on phytoplankton abundance. Among the indices tested, the Menhinick diversity index and three indices of evenness were the most efficient, showing consistency (monotonic behavior) and linearity and were therefore used for the development of quality scales for the WFD. An Integrated Phytoplankton Index (IPI) based on three phytoplankton metrics, chlorophyll a, abundance, and diversity is also proposed. The efficiency of these indices was evaluated for a number of sites in the Aegean, already classified in the past by various methods based on nutrient concentrations or phytoplankton data. The results indicate that the various phytoplankton metrics (chlorophyll a, abundance, and diversity) assessed or proposed in the current study, carry their own information showing differences in the final classification of areas. Therefore the establishment of synthetic indices as the IPI seems to be advantageous for the integrated assessment of coastal water quality in the framework of European policies as the WFD.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Spatharis, Dr Sofie
Authors: Spatharis, S., and Tsirtsis, G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Ecological Indicators
ISSN (Online):1872-7034

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