, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 265-283

Include or exclude? A review on the role and suitability of aquatic invertebrate neozoa as indicators in biological assessment with special respect to fresh and brackish European waters

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Abstract

This paper reviews published knowledge on how to deal with invasive species during biological quality assessments in European river systems for water management and assessments of ecological quality required, for example, by the European Water Frame Work Directive. The papers studied included international papers and some standards for water assessment. An overview of the current state of neozoa research showed that many different topics are treated, comprising biogeography and fauna records, species replacements and effectiveness of colonisation, life cycles, competition between native and invasive species, habitat quality and pathways of migration. Additionally, some papers have been published recently on the integration of neozoa in index-based assessment systems. Although the decline or increase of alien species populations and the corresponding impacts on indigenous populations were frequently observed, the mechanisms behind the invasions often remain hypothetical. In the reviewed papers, issues such as possible reasons for coexistence, tolerances, quality of habitat or water, life history traits and introduction of diseases were rarely covered. Few neozoa are sufficiently investigated to be categorised as indicators. After discussing the advantages and disadvantages of inclusion or exclusion, inclusion of invaders in assessments of both biodiversity (all species) and human impact (only species classified in their specific tolerance) is suggested. Further research is required to (1) update and assign ecological profiles of the non-indigenous species currently and (2) assess the effects of new invaders on native communities.