, Volume 704, Issue 1, pp 193-211

Development of a fish-based index to assess the eutrophication status of European lakes

Abstract

The use of the CEN (European Committee for Standardization) standard method for sampling fish in lakes using multi-mesh gillnets allowed the collection of fish assemblages of 445 European lakes in 12 countries. The lakes were additionally characterised by environmental drivers and eutrophication proxies. Following a site-specific approach including a validation procedure, a fish index including two abundance metrics (catch per unit effort expressed as fish number and biomass) and one functional metric of composition (abundance of omnivorous fish) was developed. Correlated with the proxy of eutrophication, this index discriminates between heavily and moderately impacted lakes. Additional analyses on a subset of data from Nordic lakes revealed a stronger correlation between the new fish index and the pressure data. Despite an uneven geographical distribution of the lakes and certain shortcomings in the environmental and pressure data, the fish index proved to be useful for ecological status assessment of lakes applying standardised protocols and thus supports the development of national lake fish assessment tools in line with the European Water Framework Directive.

Guest editors: C. K. Feld, A. Borja, L. Carvalho & D. Hering / Water bodies in Europe: integrative systems to assess ecological status and recovery