Measuring ecological change of aquatic macrophytes in Mediterranean rivers

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Abstract

A metric was developed for assessing anthropogenic impacts on aquatic macrophyte ecology by scoring macrophyte species along the main gradient of community change. A measure of ecological quality was then calculated by Weighted Averaging (WA) of these species scores at a monitoring site, and comparison to a reference condition score. This metric was used to illustrate the difficulties of developing aquatic macrophyte indices based on indicator species in Mediterranean rivers. The response of the metric to a nutrient gradient was examined within two different river typologies: the national typology designed for the Water Framework Directive and a typology that segregates the environmental variables to produce maximum species similarity within a river type. Both typologies showed the strong north-south climatic divide in Portugal, with southern rivers having long periods without rainfall and often without flowing water in the summer. Overall, the metric responded well to nutrient impacts however it performed poorly in some southern lowland river types. This was thought to be due to low numbers of aquatic macrophytes in temporary rivers. Non-aquatic species that establish in the river channel of temporary rivers may have to be included in indices to improve performance. Also, simple Weighted Averaging (WA) metrics may be insensitive to abundance changes and loss of rarer indicators in lowland Mediterranean rivers. More sophisticated methods of using WA are suggested, as well as further research into developing assessment methods specific to the character of Mediterranean rivers. © 2011 Elsevier GmbH.

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APA

Dodkins, I., Aguiar, F., Rivaes, R., Albuquerque, A., Rodríguez-González, P., & Ferreira, M. T. (2012). Measuring ecological change of aquatic macrophytes in Mediterranean rivers. Limnologica, 42(2), 95–107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.limno.2011.09.001

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