, Volume 695, Issue 1, pp 253-263

Effect of streamlining taxa lists on diatom-based indices: implications for intercalibrating ecological status

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Intercalibration of ecological status class boundaries between member states is a requirement of the European Union’s Water Framework Directive. Although a preliminary intercalibration of boundaries established for phytobenthos has been performed, a number of questions remain, including the extent to which variations in taxonomic concepts used in different member states influences the position of these boundaries. In this paper, the robustness of the diatom-based metrics used for intercalibration is assessed. Whilst use of genus-level identification led to a loss of ecological information, merging representatives of closely-related taxa has little effect on these metrics. Similarly, taxa that occur only rarely or never have high relative abundances in a dataset can also be ignored without the loss of ecological information. Similar results were obtained when modern taxonomic concepts were compared with concepts in use 80 years ago. Fine scale taxonomy may play a valuable role within member states; however, our results suggest that, at a continental scale, a simplified approach to diatom taxonomy should not affect intercalibration results.

Guest editors: L. Ector, D. Hlúbiková & L. Hoffmann / Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium “Use of Algae for Monitoring Rivers”, Luxembourg, November 23–25, 2009