Are diatom diversity indices reliable monitoring metrics?
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A biological survey was carried out in 640 stations spread over the Loire-Bretagne National Network (France) between 1996 and 2000. Epilithic diatom inventories were obtained following standard methods. A total of 934 diatom taxa were identified. Common diversity indices (species richness, Shannon’s diversity, equitability, dominance, etc.) were calculated and compared against abiotic factors verify their reliability as biomonitoring metrics. Sampling stations were classified according to their trophic status (TP concentration). Several theoretical predictions about the relationship between community structural parameters and limnological variables were tested. In general, diversity indices exhibited poor linear correlations with environmental factors indicating ecological status. No clear patterns were found concerning species accumulation curves, occurrence-abundance, frequency-abundance and frequency distribution of diatom taxa between different trophic levels, although assemblages from stations with lower TP levels were characterized by relatively high dominances of certain taxa, mainly Achnanthidium minutissimum. In the light of these findings, the use of diatom diversity indices in biological quality surveillance protocols in continental waters is discouraged. Results are compared and discussed with similar studies.
KeywordsBioassessment Rank/abundance Shannon’s index Species accumulation Species richness Trophic level
The authors thank J. Durocher of the Loire-Bretagne Water Agency, M. Leitao of the Bi-Eau society, and F. Rimet of the INRA for their valuable collaboration for the elaboration of the database. Prof. E. Lobo (UNISC, Brazil) and two anonymous referees kindly revised the manuscript.
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