, Volume 566, Issue 1, pp 357–364 | Cite as

Intercalibration and comparison – major results and conclusions from the STAR project

  • Andrea BuffagniEmail author
  • Mike Furse


The main results of the STAR project on the intercalibration of boundaries of European assessment systems and comparison between assessment methods are summarized here. The main findings are outlined in the context of the Water Framework Directive that requires reliable instructions to be set up on how to use and harmonise assessment systems and methods for European rivers. The main papers published on these subjects by STAR partners are reviewed, with focus on major questions addressed and approaches used for investigation. The need for broad coverage of geographic ranges and pressure gradients, together with the goal of providing outcomes appropriate to the effective application of the WFD are emphasized. Extensive datasets from a wide range of countries, stream types and sites and a large number of methods, metrics and approaches are compared and tested and various cross-cutting themes emerged. Among these, the value of the use of benchmarking systems for comparison and intercalibration is highlighted. Two ways of looking for comparability of assessment systems results were analyzed: a) by adopting identical sampling techniques across Europe and b) by harmonizing the classification results of the national assessment systems. In addition, the need, in the intercalibration process, for a proper definition of the criteria for reference conditions is underlined. This is because their imprecision now represents one of the major weaknesses of the whole intercalibration process. Direct and indirect approaches to intercalibration are considered and commented on for their potential use in distinct circumstances. Finally, the use common metrics for the intercalibration process, which make comparability across Europe valid, is tested and indeed encouraged.


comparison intercalibration macroinvertebrates macrophytes sampling methods Water Framework Directive 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Birk, S., Hering, D. 2006Direct comparison of assessment methods using benthic macroinvertebrates: a contribution to the EU Water Framework Directive intercalibration exerciseHydrobiologia566401415Google Scholar
  2. Birk, S., Korte, T., Hering, D. 2006Intercalibration of assessment methods for macrophytes in lowland streams: direct comparison and analysis of common metricsHydrobiologia566417430Google Scholar
  3. Buffagni, A. & S. Erba, 2004. A simple procedure to harmonize class boundaries of European assessment systems. Discussion paper for the intercalibration process – WFD CIS WG 2.A ECOSTAT, 6 February 2004, 21 ppGoogle Scholar
  4. Buffagni, A., Erba, S., Birk, S., Cazzola, M., Feld, C., Ofenböck,  T., Murray-Bligh, J., Furse, M. T., Clarke, R., Hering,  D., Soszka, H., Bund, W. 2005Towards European Inter-calibration for the Water Framework Directive: Procedures and Examples for Different River Types from the E.C. Project STARQuaderni Istituto di Ricerca sulle Acque, Roma 123Rome (Italy), IRSA468Google Scholar
  5. Buffagni, A., Erba, S., Cazzola, M., Murray-Bligh, J., Soszka, H., Genoni, P. 2006The STAR common metrics approach to the WFD intercalibration process: Full application for small, lowland rivers in three European countriesHydrobiologia566379399Google Scholar
  6. Buffagni, A., S. Erba & M. T. Furse, (in press). A simple procedure to harmonize class boundaries of assessment systems at the pan-European scale. Environmental Science and PolicyGoogle Scholar
  7. Clarke, R. T., Hering, D. 2006Errors and uncertainty in bioassessment methods – major results and conclusions from the STAR project and their application using STARBUGSHydrobiologia566433439Google Scholar
  8. Ellenberg, H., Weber, H. E., Düll, R., Wirth, V., Werner, W., Paulißen,  D. 1992Indicator Values of Plants in Central EuropeErich GoltzeGöttingenGoogle Scholar
  9. European Commission, 2000. Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy. Official Journal of the European Communities L 327, 22.12.2000, 72 ppGoogle Scholar
  10. European Commission, 2003. Common Implementation Strategy for the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). Guidance document no. 6. Towards a guidance on establishment of the intercalibration network and the process on the intercalibration exercise. Produced by Working Group 2.5 – Intercalibration, 54 ppGoogle Scholar
  11. European Commission, 2005. Common Implementation Strategy for the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) – Guidance Document No. 14. Guidance on the Intercalibration Process 2004–2006, 26 ppGoogle Scholar
  12. Friberg, N., Sandin, L., Furse, M. T., Larsen, S. E., Clarke, R. T., Haase, P. 2006Comparison of macroinvertebrate sampling methods in EuropeHydrobiologia566365378Google Scholar
  13. Furse, M., D. Hering, O. Moog, P. Verdonschot, R. K. Johnson, K. Brabec, K. Gritzalis, A. Buffagni, P. Pinto, N. Friberg, J. Murray-Bligh, J. Kokes, R. Alber, P. Usseglio-Polatera, P. Haase, R. Sweeting, B. Bis, K. Szoszkiewicz, H. Soszka, G. Springe, F. Sporka & I. Krno, 2006. The STAR project: context, objectives and approaches. Hydrobiologia 566: 3–29Google Scholar
  14. Ghetti, P. E., 1997. Indice Biotico Esteso (IBE). I macroinvertebrati nel controllo della qualità degli ambienti di acque correnti. Provincia Autonoma di Trento, 222 ppGoogle Scholar
  15. Heiskanen, A.-S., Bund, W., Cardoso, A. C., Nõges, P. 2004Towards good ecological status of surface waters in Europe – interpretation and harmonisation of the conceptWater Science & Technology49169177Google Scholar
  16. Hering, D., Buffagni, A., Moog, O., Sandin, L., Sommerhäuser, M., Stubauer, I., Feld, C., Johnson, R. K., Pinto, P., Skoulikidis,  N., Verdonschot, P. F. M., Zahrádková, S. 2003The development of a system to assess the ecological quality of streams based on macroinvertebrates – design of the sampling programme within the AQEM projectInternationale Revue der gesamten Hydrobiologie88345361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hering, D., O. Moog, L. Sandin & P. F. M. Verdonschot, 2004. Overview and application of the AQEM assessment system. In Hering, D., P. F. M. Verdonschot, O. Moog & L. Sandin (eds), Integrated Assessment of Running Waters in Europe. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Printed in the Netherlands, Hydrobiologia 516: 1–20Google Scholar
  18. Johnson, R. K., Hering, D., Furse, M. T., Clarke, R. T. 2006aDetection of ecological change using multiple organism groups: metrics and uncertaintyHydrobiologia566115137Google Scholar
  19. Johnson, R. K., Hering, D., Furse, M. T., Verdonschot, P. F. M. 2006bIndicators of ecological change: comparison of the early response of four organism groups to stress gradientsHydrobiologia566139152Google Scholar
  20. Mostert, E. 2003The European Water Framework Directive and water management researchPhysics and Chemistry of the Earth28523527Google Scholar
  21. Verdonschot, P. F. M. 2006Data composition and taxonomic resolution in macroinvertebrate stream typologyHydrobiologia5665974Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Water Research InstituteCNR – IRSABrugherioItaly
  2. 2.Centre for Ecology & HydrologyWinfrith Technology CentreDorchester, DorsetUK

Personalised recommendations