, Volume 589, Issue 1, pp 55-68
Date: 09 May 2007

A predictive model for freshwater bioassessment (Mondego River, Portugal)

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Abstract

We sampled macroinvertebrates at 75 locations in the Mondego river catchment, Central Portugal, and developed a predictive model for water quality assessment of this basin, based on the Reference Condition Approach. Sampling was done from June to September 2001. Fifty-five sites were identified as “Reference sites” and 20 sites were used as “Test sites” to test the model. At each site we also measured 40 habitat variables to characterize water physics and chemistry, habitat type, land use, stream hydrology and geographic location. Macroinvertebrates were generally identified to species or genus level; a total of 207 taxa were found. By Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic mean (UPGMA) clustering and analysis of species contribution to similarities percentage (SIMPER), two groups of reference sites were established. Using Discriminant Analysis (stepwise forward), four variables correctly predicted 78% of the reference sites to the appropriate group: stream order, pool quality, substrate quality and current velocity. Test sites’ environmental quality was established from their relative distance to reference sites, in MDS ordination space, using a series of bands (BEAST methodology). The model performed well at upstream sites, but at downstream sites it was compromised by the lack of reference sites. As with the English RIVPACS predictive model, the Mondego model should be continually improved with the addition of new reference sites. The adaptation of the Mondego model methodology to the Water Framework Directive is possible and would consist mainly of the integration of the WFD typology and increasing the number of ellipses that define quality bands.

Handling editor: K. Martens