, Volume 633, Issue 1, pp 123-136
Date: 22 Jul 2009

Modelling lake macroinvertebrate species in the shallow sublittoral: relative roles of habitat, lake morphology, aquatic chemistry and sediment composition

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Macroinvertebrates are one of the key components of lake ecosystems and are required to be monitored alongside other biological groups to define ecological status according to European Union legislation. Macroinvertebrate communities are highly variable and complex and respond to a diverse series of environmental conditions. The purpose of this study was to examine the relative importance of environmental variables in explaining macroinvertebrate abundance. A total of 45 sub-alpine lakes were sampled for macroinvertebrates in the shallow sublittoral. Environmental variables were grouped into four types: (1) aquatic physical and chemical parameters, (2) littoral and riparian habitat, (3) lake morphometric parameters and (4) sediment chemical characteristics. Nonparametric multiplicative regression (NPMR) was used to model the abundance of individual macroinvertebrate taxa. Significant models were produced for nine out of the 24 taxa examined. Sediment characteristics were the group most frequently included in models and also the factors to which taxa abundance was the most sensitive. Aquatic physical and chemical variables were the next group most frequently included in models although chlorophyll a was not included in any of the models and total phosphorus in only one. This indicates that many taxa may not show a direct easily interpretable response to eutrophication pressure. Lake morphometric factors were included in several of the models although the sensitivity of macroinvertebrate abundance tended to be lower than for sediment and aquatic physical and chemical factors. Habitat factors were only included in three models although riparian vegetation was found to have a significant influence on the abundance of Ephemera danica indicating that ecotone integrity is likely to play a role in its ecology. Overall, the models tended to be specific for species with limited commonality across taxa. Models produced by NPMR indicate that the response of macroinvertebrates to environmental variables can be successfully described but further research is required focussing in more detail on the response of key taxa to relevant environmental parameters and anthropogenic pressures.

Guest editors: P. Nõges, W. van de Bund, A. C. Cardoso, A. Solimini & A.-S. Heiskanen
Assessment of the Ecological Status of European Surface Waters