, Volume 644, Issue 1, pp 169-183
Date: 04 Feb 2010

Impact of habitat diversity on the sampling effort required for the assessment of river fish communities and IBI

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The spatial variation in the fish communities of four small Belgian rivers with variable habitat diversity was investigated by electric fishing to define the minimum sampling distance required for optimal fish stock assessment and determination of the Index of Biotic Integrity. This study shows that the standardised sampling distance of 100 m was not always sufficient to collect most species present. The required minimum sampling distance seems to be correlated with habitat diversity. In homogeneous streams, a mean sample distance of 282, 452 and 572 m is necessary to capture 80, 90 and 95% of all species present, respectively. In heterogeneous streams, these sample distances decrease to 217, 380 and 503 m. Hence, at least 300 m should be sampled to catch most species present with a single-pass sampling method. However, our results show that a 100 m sampling distance as presently used in the Flemish monitoring programs is sufficient to accurately describe the ecological quality since differences in IBI evaluation between adjacent stretches could at least for some rivers be explained by differences in habitat heterogeneity.

Handling editor M. Power