, Volume 695, Issue 1, pp 137–151 | Cite as

Developing a diatom monitoring network in an urban river-basin: initial assessment and site selection

  • Ingrid JüttnerEmail author
  • P. James Chimonides
  • Steve J. Ormerod


There is increasing interest in the restoration of urban river systems because they are affected by multiple point- and diffuse-source impairments. In South Wales, these issues are exemplified by the rivers Taff and Ely, which have a well-documented history of pollution. We developed a network of river-monitoring sites to capture as many sources of impairment as possible and to provide an integrated assessment of basin-wide conditions using established, recently revised and new methods to assess ecological status as required by the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Most of the 34 river sites, except those in upstream areas, had moderate or poor ecological status and low species richness. There were significant correlations between the UK Trophic Diatom Index (TDI), phosphate and nitrate concentrations, but the strongest correlation was with sodium concentrations. Sodium also differentiated best between ecological status classes. The UK TDI, Ecological Quality Ratios and the Indice de Polluosensibilité Spécifique (IPS) correlated strongly, but the IPS reflected chemical conditions less well. There were also possible metal impacts including some upstream sites despite apparently good or high ecological status. These data reveal strong capacity in diatoms for reflecting stressors that affect urban river networks. We recommend (i) further assessments including geographically comprehensive and repeated surveys to underpin local decision-making and (ii) further refinement of the tools currently in use for WFD purposes through the development of specific diagnostic indices or multi-metric methods for a comprehensive assessment of complex catchments affected by multiple impairments.


Diatoms Streams Water Framework Directive Water chemistry Monitoring Pollution 



We would like to thank Gary Jones, Department of Mineralogy, Natural History Museum, London, for part of the chemical analyses, and Martyn Kelly and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingrid Jüttner
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. James Chimonides
    • 2
  • Steve J. Ormerod
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biodiversity and Systematic BiologyNational Museum of WalesCardiffUK
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyNatural History MuseumLondonUK
  3. 3.Catchment Research Group, School of BiosciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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