Skip to main content

A tiered framework for assessing groundwater ecosystem health

Abstract

The notion of ecosystem health has been widely adopted in environmental policy, particularly in the management of river systems. Despite this, even a notional understanding of ecosystem health and its assessment in connected aquifer ecosystems remains elusive. In this article, we propose a definition and provide a tiered framework for the assessment of ecosystem health in groundwater. From the literature we identify general attributes of a healthy groundwater ecosystem and from these develop primary (Tier 1) indicators of health. Where Tier 1 benchmarks are exceeded or more detailed assessment is required, we discuss a range of indicators (Tier 2) that may together generate a multimetric index of groundwater health. Our case study using samples from an alluvial aquifer in north-western New South Wales, Australia, demonstrates the utility of both tiers of the framework, and the ability of the approach to separate disturbed and undisturbed sites. The process of multimetric development is simple and our Tier 2 benchmarks determined from limited data. Nevertheless, our framework will be applicable and readily adaptable to site-specific contexts.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Almasri, N., 2007. Nitrate contamination of groundwater: a conceptual management framework. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 27: 220–242.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Anderson, M. E. & M. D. Sobsey, 2006. Detection and occurrence of antimicrobially resistant E. coli in groundwater on or near swine farms in eastern North Carolina. Water Science and Technology 54: 211–218.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Anneser, B., G. Pilloni, A. Bayer, T. Lueders, C. Griebler, F. Einsiedl & L. Richters, 2010. High resolution analysis of contaminated aquifer sediments and groundwater—what can be learned in terms of natural attenuation? Geomicrobiology Journal 27: 130–142.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bailey, R. C., R. H. Norris & T. B. Reynoldson, 2004. Bioassessment of Freshwater Ecosystems: Using the Reference Condition Approach. Springer, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Battin, T., 1997. Assessment of fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis as a measure of total esterase activity in natural stream sediment biofilms. The Science of the Total Environment 198: 51–60.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Benndorf, D., G. U. Balcke, H. Harms & M. Bergen, 2007. Functional metaproteome analysis of protein extracts from contaminated soil and groundwater. International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal 1: 224–234.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Bonada, N., N. Prat, V. H. Resh & B. Statzner, 2006. Developments in aquatic insect biomonitoring: a comparative analysis of recent approaches. Annual Review of Entomology 51: 495–523.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Botton, S., M. van Heusden, J. R. Parsons, H. Smidt & N. van Straalen, 2006. Resilience of microbial systems towards disturbances. Critical Reviews in Microbiology 32: 101–112.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Boulton, A. J., 1999. An overview of river health assessment: philosophies, practice, problems and prognosis. Freshwater Biology 41: 469–479.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Boulton, A. J., 2000. River ecosystem health down under: assessing ecological conditions in riverine groundwater zones in Australia. Ecosystem Health 6: 108–118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Boulton, A. J. & P. I. Boon, 1991. A review of methodology used to measure leaf litter decomposition in lotic environments: time to turn over a new leaf? Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 42: 1–43.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Boulton, A. J., T. Datry, T. Kasahara, M. Mutz & J. Stanford, 2010. Ecology and management of the hyporheic zone: stream–groundwater interactions of running waters and their floodplains. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 29: 26–40.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Boulton, A., G. Fenwick, P. Hancock & M. Harvey, 2008. Biodiversity, functional roles and ecosystem services of groundwater invertebrates. Invertebrate Systematics 22: 103–116.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Boulton, A. J. & J. Quinn, 2000. A simple and versatile technique for assessing cellulose decomposition potential in floodplains and riverine sediments. Archiv für Hydrobiologie 150: 133–151.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Brand, F. S. & K. Jax, 2007. Focusing the meaning(s) of resilience: resilience as a descriptive concept and a boundary object. Ecology and Society 12: 23.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Cannavo, P., A. Richaume & F. Lafolie, 2004. Fate of nitrogen and carbon in the vadose zone: in situ and laboratory measurements of seasonal variations in aerobic respiratory and denitrifying activities. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 36: 463–478.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Castellarini, F., M. J. Dole-Olivier, F. Malard & J. Gibert, 2007a. Using habitat heterogeneity to assess stygobiotic species richness in the French Jura region with a conservation perspective. Fundamental and Applied Limnology 169: 69–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Castellarini, F., F. Malard, M. J. Dole-Olivier & J. Gibert, 2007b. Modelling the distribution of stygobionts in the Jura Mountains (eastern France). Implications for the protection of ground waters. Diversity and Distributions 13: 213–224.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Chapelle, F., 2001. Groundwater Microbiology and Geochemistry. Wiley, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Chessman, B. & M. Royal, 2004. Bioassessment without reference sites: Use of environmental filters to predict natural assemblages of river macroinvertebrates. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 23: 599–615.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Cho, J. & S. Kim, 2000. Increases in bacteria community diversity in subsurface aquifers receiving livestock wastewater input. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 66: 956–965.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Claret, C. & A. J. Boulton, 2003. Diel variation in surface and subsurface microbial activity along a gradient of drying in an Australian sand-bed stream. Freshwater Biology 48: 1739–1755.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Claret, C., A. J. Boulton, M. J. Dole-Olivier & P. Marmonier, 2001. Functional processes versus state variables: Interstitial organic matter pathways in floodplain habitats. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 58: 1502–1594.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Claret, C., P. Marmonier, M. J. Dole-Olivier, M. Creuze des Chatelliers, A. J. Boulton & E. Castella, 1999. A functional classification of interstitial invertebrates: supplementing measures of biodiversity using species traits and habitat affinities. Archiv für Hydrobiologie 154: 385–403.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Coineau, N., 2000. Adaptations to interstitial groundwater life. In Wilkens, H., D. Culver & W. Humphreys (eds), Ecosystems of the World, Vol 30: Subterranean Ecosystems. Elsevier, Amsterdam: 189–210.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Connell, J. H., 1978. Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Science 199: 1302–1310.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Costanza, R. & M. Mageau, 1999. What is a healthy ecosystem? Aquatic Ecology 33: 105–115.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Creuze des Chatelliers, M., J. Juget, M. Lafont & P. Martin, 2009. Subterranean aquatic Oligochaeta. Freshwater Biology 54: 678–690.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Culver, D. C., 1994. Species interactions. In Gibert, J., D. Danielopol & J. Stanford (eds), Groundwater Ecology. Academic Press, California: 271–285.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Culver, D., W. Jones & J. Holsinger, 1992. Biological and hydrological investigation of the Cedars, Lee County, Virginia, an ecologically significant and threatened karst area. In Stanford, J. & J. Simons (eds), Proceeding of the First International Groundwater Ecology Conference. American Water Resources Association, Bethesda: 281–290.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Dale, V. & S. Beyer, 2001. Challenges in the development and use of ecological indicators. Ecological Indicators 1: 3–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Danielopol, D., M. Creuze des Chatelliers, F. Mosslacher, P. Pospisil & P. Popa, 1994. Adaptions of crustacea to interstitial habitats: a practical agenda for ecological studies. In Gibert, J., D. Danielopol & J. Stanford (eds), Groundwater Ecology. Academic Press, California: 218–243.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Danielopol, D. L., C. Griebler, A. Gunatilaka & J. Notenboom, 2003. Present state and future prospects for groundwater ecosystems. Environmental Conservation 30: 104–130.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Danielopol, D., P. Pospisil, J. Dreher, F. Mosslacher, P. Torreiter, M. Geiger-Kaiser & A. Gunatilaka, 2000. A groundwater ecosystem in the Danube wetlands at Wien (Austria). In Wilkens, H., D. Culver & W. Humphreys (eds), Ecosystems of the World, Vol 30: Subterranean Ecosystems. Elsevier, Amsterdam: 481–511.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Datry, T., F. Malard & J. Gibert, 2005. Response of invertebrate assemblages to increased groundwater recharge in a phreatic aquifer. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 24: 461–477.

    Google Scholar 

  36. de Lipthay, J., K. Johnsen, H. Albrechtsen, P. Rosenberg & J. Aamand, 2004. Bacterial density and community structure of a sub-surface aquifer exposed to realistic low herbicide concentrations. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 49: 59–69.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  37. Dole-Olivier, M. J., F. Malard & J. Gibert, 2005. Main factors driving the stygobiotic assemblages at a regional scale. In Gibert, J. (ed.), World Subterranean Biodiversity. Proceedings of an International Symposium. University Claude Bernard, Lyon, France [available on internet at http://www.pascalis-project.com].

  38. Dole-Olivier, M. J., F. Malard, D. Martin, T. Lefébure & J. Gibert, 2009a. Relationships between environmental variables and groundwater biodiversity at the regional scale. Freshwater Biology 54: 797–813.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Dole-Olivier, M. J., F. Castellarini, N. Coineau, D. M. P. Galassi, P. Martin, N. Mori, A. Valdecasas & J. Gibert, 2009b. Towards and optimal sampling strategy to assess groundwater biodiversity: comparison across six European regions. Freshwater Biology 54: 777–796.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Dole-Olivier, M., P. Marmonier, M. Creuze des Chatelliers & D. Martin, 1994. Interstitial fauna associated with alluvial floodplains of the Rhone River (France). In Gibert, J., D. Danielopol & J. Stanford (eds), Groundwater Ecology. Academic Press, California: 314–345.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Duffy, J. E., B. J. Cardinale, K. E. France, P. B. McIntyre, E. Thébault & M. Loreau, 2007. The functional role of biodiversity in food webs: incorporating trophic complexity. Ecology Letters 10: 522–538.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Eamus, D. & R. Froend, 2006. Groundwater-dependent ecosystems: the where, what and why of GDEs. Australian Journal of Botany 54: 91–96.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Eberhard, S. M., S. A. Halse & W. F. Humphreys, 2005. Stygofaunal communities of north-west Western Australia. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Western Australia 88: 167–176.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Eberhard, S. M., S. A. Halse, M. Williams, M. Scanlon, J. Cocking & H. Barron, 2009. Exploring the relationship between sampling efficiency and short-range endemism for groundwater fauna in the Pilbara region, Western Australia. Freshwater Biology 54: 885–901.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Edmunds, W. M. & P. Shand, 2008. Natural Groundwater Quality. Blackwell, Oxford.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  46. Eydal, H. S. C. & K. Pedersen, 2007. Use of an ATP assay to determine viable microbial biomass in Fennoscandian Shield groundwater from depths of 3–1000 m. Journal of Microbiological Methods 70: 363–373.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Fernandez, A. S., S. A. Hashsham, S. L. Dolhopf, L. Raskin, O. Glagoleva, F. B. Dazzo, R. F. Hickey, C. S. Criddle & J. M. Tiedje, 2000. Flexible community structure correlates with stable community function in methanogenic bioreactor communities perturbed by glucose. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 66: 4058–4067.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Findlay, S. & W. Sobczak, 2000. Microbial communities in hyporheic sediments. In Jones, J. & P. Mulholland (eds), Streams and Ground Waters. Academic Press, California: 287–306.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  49. Findlay, S., D. Strayer, C. Goumbala & K. Gould, 1993. Metabolism of streamwater dissolved organic carbon in the shallow hyporheic zone. Liminology and Oceanography 38: 1493–1499.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Fliermans, C. B., M. M. Franck, T. C. Hazen & R. W. Gorden, 1997. Ecofunctional enzymes of microbial communities in ground water. FEMS Microbiology Reviews 20: 379–389.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Franklin, R., D. Taylor & A. Mills, 2000. The distribution of microbial communities in anaerobic and aerobic zones of a shallow coastal plain aquifer. Microbial Ecology 38: 377–386.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Galassi, D., R. Huys & J. Reid, 2009a. Diversity ecology and evolution of groundwater copepods. Freshwater Biology 54: 691–708.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Galassi, D., F. Stoch, B. Fiasca, T. Di Lorenzo & E. Gattone, 2009b. Groundwater biodiversity patterns in the Lessinian Massif of northern Italy. Freshwater Biology 54: 830–847.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Gibert, J., 2001. Basic attributes of groundwater ecosystems. In Griebler, C., D. Danielopol, J. Gibert, H. P. Nachtnebel & J. Notenboom (eds), Groundwater Ecology: A tool for management of water resources. Official Publication of the European Communities, Luxembourg: 39–52.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Gibert, J., D. Culver, M. J. Dole-Olivier, F. Malard, M. Christman & L. Deharveng, 2009. Assessing and conserving groundwater biodiversity: synthesis and perspectives. Freshwater Biology 54: 930–941.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Gibert, J. & L. Deharveng, 2002. Subterranean ecosystems: a truncated functional biodiversity. Bioscience 52: 473–481.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Gibert, J., F. Malard, M. Turquin & R. Lavient, 2000. Karst ecosystems in the Rhone River Basin. In Wilkens, H., D. Culver & W. Humphreys (eds), Ecosystems of the World, Vol 30: Subterranean Ecosystems. Elsevier, Amsterdam: 533–558.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Gibert, J., J. A. Stanford, M. J. Dole-Oliver & J. Ward, 1994. Basic attributes of groundwater ecosystems and prospects for research. In Gibert, J., D. Danielopol & J. Stanford (eds), Groundwater Ecology. Academic Press, California: 7–40.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Goldscheider, N., D. Hunkeler & P. Rossi, 2006. Review: microbial biocenoses in pristine aquifers and an assessment of investigation methods. Hydrogeology Journal 14: 926–941.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Gounot, A. M., 1994. Microbial ecology of groundwaters. In Gibert, J., D. Danielopol & J. Stanford (eds), Groundwater Ecology. Academic Press, California: 189–216.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Griebler, C., 2001. Microbial ecology of subsurface ecosystems. In Griebler, C., D. Danielopol, J. Gibert, H. P. Nachtnebel & J. Notenboom (eds), Groundwater Ecology: A Tool for Management of Water Resources. Official Publication of the European Communities, Luxembourg: 81–108.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Griebler, C. & T. Lueders, 2009. Microbial biodiversity in groundwater ecosystems. Freshwater Biology 54: 649–677.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Griebler, C., B. Mindl, B. Slezak & M. Geiger-Kaiser, 2002. Distribution patterns of attached and suspended bacteria in pristine and contaminated shallow aquifers, studied with an in situ sediment exposure microcosm. Aquatic Microbial Ecology 28: 117–129.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Griebler, C. & S. I. Schmidt, 2009. Groundwater ecosystem functioning and assessment of the ecological status. SILnews 54: 16–17.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Griebler, C., H. Stein, C. Kellermann, S. Berkhoff, H. Brielmann, S. Schmidt, D. Selesi, C. Steube, A. Fuchs & H. Hahn, 2010. Ecological assessment of groundwater ecosystems—vision or illusion? Ecological Engineering 36: 1174–1190.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Griffiths, B. S., H. L. Kuan, K. Ritz, L. A. Glover, A. E. McCaig & C. Fenwick, 2004. The relationship between microbial community structure and functional stability, tested experimentally in an upland pasture soil. Microbial Ecology 47: 104–113.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Griffiths, B. S., K. Ritz, R. Wheatley, H. L. Kuan & B. Boag, 2001. An examination of the biodiversity-ecosystem function relationship in arable soil microbial communities. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 33: 1713–1722.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Griffiths, B. S., K. Ritz, R. D. Bardgett, R. Cook & S. Christensen, 2000. Ecosystem response of pasture soil communities to fumigation-induced microbial diversity reductions: an examination of the biodiversity-ecosystem function relationship. Oikos 90: 279–294.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Groffman, P. A., M. A. Altabet, J. A. Böhlke, K. Butterbach-Bahl, M. B. David, M. K. Firestone, A. E. Giblin, T. M. Kana, L. A. Nielsen & M. A. Voytek, 2006. Methods for measuring denitrification: diverse approaches to a difficult problem. Ecological Applications 16: 2091–2122.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Hahn, H. J., 2006. The GW-Fauna-index: a first approach to a quantitative ecological assessment of groundwater habitats. Limnologica 36: 119–137.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Hahn, H. J. & A. Fuchs, 2009. Distribution patterns of groundwater communities across aquifer types in south-western Germany. Freshwater Biology 54: 848–860.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Hahn, H. J. & D. Matzke, 2005. A comparison of stygofauna communities inside and outside groundwater bores. Limnologica 35: 31–44.

    Google Scholar 

  73. Hakenkamp, C. & M. Palmer, 1992. Problems associated with quantitative sampling of groundwater invertebrates. In Stanford, J. A. & J. J. Simons (eds), Proceedings of the First International Conference on Ground Water Ecology. American Water Resources Association, Maryland: 101–110.

    Google Scholar 

  74. Hancock, P. J. 2009. Alluvial aquifer fauna during and following drought. In International Association of Hydrogeologists. Groundwater in the Sydney Basin Symposium, Sydney, August 4–5, 2009 [available in online at http://www.dealersgroup.com.au/kb/4-hancock-p—dynamics-of-groundwater-invertebrate.pdf. Accessed 1/4/10.

  75. Hancock, P. J. & A. J. Boulton, 2008. Stygofauna biodiversity and endemism in four alluvial aquifers in eastern Australia. Invertebrate Systematics 22: 117–126.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Hancock, P. J. & A. J. Boulton, 2009. Sampling groundwater fauna: efficiency of rapid assessment methods tested in bores in eastern Australia. Freshwater Biology 54: 902–917.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Hashsham, S. A., A. S. Fernandez, S. L. Dollhopf, F. B. Dazzo & R. F. Hickey, 2000. Parallel processing of substrate correlates with greater functional stability in methanogenic bioreactor communities perturbed by glucose. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 66: 4050–4057.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Hendricks, S. P., 1996. Bacterial biomass activity and production within the hyporheic zone of a north-temperate stream. Archiv für Hydrobiologie 136: 467–487.

    Google Scholar 

  79. Hering, D., C. Feld, O. Moog & T. Ofenbock, 2006. Cook book for the development of a multimetric index for biological condition of aquatic ecosystems: experiences from the European AQEM and STAR projects and related initiatives. Hydrobiologia 566: 311–324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Hulot, F. D., G. Lacroix, F. Lescher-Moutoue & M. Loreau, 2000. Functional diversity governs ecosystem response to nutrient enrichment. Nature 405: 340–344.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Humphreys, W., 2006. Aquifers: the ultimate groundwater dependent ecosystem. Australian Journal of Botany 54: 115–132.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Humphreys, W., 2008. Rising from down under: developments in subterranean biodiversity in Australia from a groundwater fauna perspective. Invertebrate Systematics 22: 85–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Humphries, J., A. Ashe, J. Smiley & C. Johnston, 2005. Microbial community structure and trichloroethylene degradation in groundwater. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 51: 433–439.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  84. Jasinska, E. & B. Knott, 2000. Root driven faunas in cave waters. In Wilkens, H., D. Culver & W. Humphreys (eds), Ecosystems of the World, Vol 30: Subterranean Ecosystems. Elsevier, Amsterdam: 287–307.

    Google Scholar 

  85. Jasinska, E. J., B. Knott & N. Poulter, 1993. Spread of the introduced yabby, Cherax sp (Crustacea: Decapoda), beyond the natural range of freshwater crayfishes in Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 76: 67–69.

    Google Scholar 

  86. Jones, J. & P. Mulholland, 2000. Streams and Groundwaters. Academic Press, California.

    Google Scholar 

  87. Karr, J. R., 1999. Defining and measuring river health. Freshwater Biology 41: 221–234.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  88. Keating, B, J. Bauld, J. Hillier, R. Ellis, K. Weier, F. Sunners & D. Connell, 1996. Leaching of nutrients and pesticides to Queensland groundwaters. In Hunter, H., A. Eyles & Rayment, G. (eds) Downstream Effects of Landuse. Department of Natural Resources, Queensland: 151–163.

  89. Lafont, M., J. Camus & A. Rosso, 1996. Superficial and hyporheic oligochaete communities as indicators of pollution and water exchange in the River Moselle, France. Hydrobiologia 334: 147–155.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  90. Lategan, M., K. Korbel & G. C. Hose, 2010. Is cotton-strip tensile strength a surrogate for microbial activity in groundwater? Marine and Freshwater Research 61: 351–356.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  91. Lee, E.-H., J. Kim, J.-Y. Kim, S.-Y. Koo, S.-D. Lee, K.-S. Ko, D.-C. Ko, B.-W. Yum & K.-S. Cho, 2010. Comparison of microbial communities in petroleum-contaminated groundwater using genetic and metabolic profiles at Kyonggi-Do, South Korea. Environmental Earth Sciences 60: 371–382.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  92. Madison, R. J. & J. O. Brunett, 1985. Overview of the occurrence of nitrate in ground water of the United States. In U.S. Geological Survey (ed.), National Water Summary 1984 Hydrologic Events, Selected Water-Quality Trends, and Ground-Water Resources. U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2275. U.S. Geological Survey, Virginia: 93–105 [available on internet at http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/usgspubs/wsp/wsp2275].

  93. Malard, F., 2001. Groundwater contamination and ecological monitoring in a mediterranean karst ecosystem in Southern France. In Griebler, C., D. Danielopol, J. Gibert, H. P. Nachtnebel & J. Notenboom (eds), Groundwater Ecology: A Tool for Management of Water Resources. Official Publication of the European Communities, Luxembourg: 183–194.

    Google Scholar 

  94. Malard, F., J. Mathieu, J. L. Reygrobellet & M. Lafont, 1996a. Biomonitoring groundwater contamination: application to a karst area in Southern France. Aquatic Sciences 58: 158–187.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  95. Malard, F., S. Plenet & J. Gibert, 1996b. The use of invertebrates in ground water monitoring: a rising research field. Groundwater Monitoring and Remediation 16: 103–113.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  96. Marmonier, P. & M. Creuze des Chatelliers, 1991. Effects of spates on interstitial assemblages of the Rhone River: importance of spatial heterogeneity. Hydrobiologia 210: 243–251.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  97. Marmonier, P., M. Creuze des Chatelliers, M. Dole-Olivier, S. Plenet & J. Gibert, 2000. Rhone groundwater systems. In Wilkens, H., D. Culver & W. Humphreys (eds), Ecosystems of the World, Vol 30: Subterranean Ecosystems. Elsevier, Amsterdam: 513–531.

    Google Scholar 

  98. Marmonier, P., D. Fontvieille, J. Gibert & V. Vanek, 1995. Distribution of dissolved organic carbon and bacteria at the interface between the Rhone River and its alluvial aquifer. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 14: 382–392.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  99. Mary, N. & P. Marmonier, 2000. First survey of interstitial fauna in New Caledonia Rivers: influence of geological and geomorphological characteristics. Hydrobiologia 418: 199–208.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  100. Masciopinto, C., F. Semeraro, R. La Mantia, S. Inguscio & E. Rossi, 2006. Stygofauna abundance and distribution in the fissures and caves of the Nardo (southern Italy) fractured aquifer subject to reclaimed water injections. Geomicrobiology Journal 23: 267–278.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  101. Mauclaire, L., J. Gibert & C. Claret, 2000. Do bacteria and nutrients control faunal assemblages in alluvial aquifers? Archiv für Hydrobiologie 148: 85–98.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  102. McCann, K. S., 2000. The diversity-stability debate. Nature 405: 228–233.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  103. Mermillod-Blondin, F., M. Creuze des Chatelliers, P. Marmonier & M. J. Dole-Olivier, 2000. Distribution of solutes, microbes and invertebrates in river sediments along a riffle-pool-riffle sequence. Freshwater Biology 44: 255–269.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  104. Moldovan, O., S. Iepure & A. Fekete, 2001. Recent ecological research on groundwater in Transylvania (Romania). In Griebler, C., D. Danielopol, J. Gibert, H. P. Nachtnebel & J. Notenboom (eds), Groundwater Ecology: A Tool for Management of Water Resources. Official Publication of the European Communities, Luxembourg: 335–343.

    Google Scholar 

  105. Mosslacher, F., 1998. Subsurface dwelling crustacea as indicators of hydrological conditions, oxygen concentration and sediment structure in an alluvial aquifer. International Review of Hydrobiology 83: 349–364.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  106. Mosslacher, F., C. Griebler & J. Notenboom, 2001. Biomonitoring of groundwater systems: methods, applications and possible indicators among the groundwater biota. In Griebler, C., D. Danielopol, J. Gibert, H. P. Nachtnebel & J. Notenboom (eds), Groundwater Ecology: A Tool for Management of Water Resources. Official Publication of the European Communities, Luxembourg: 173–182.

    Google Scholar 

  107. Mulholland, P. & D. DeAngelis, 2000. Surface-subsurface exchange and nutrient spiralling. In Jones, J. & P. Mulholland (eds), Stream and Ground Waters. Academic Press, California: 149–166.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  108. Müller, A., K. Westergaard, S. Christensen & S. Sørensen, 2002. The diversity and function of soil microbial communities exposed to different disturbances. Microbial Ecology 44: 49–58.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  109. Neff, J. C. & G. P. Asner, 2001. Dissolved organic carbon in terrestrial ecosystems: synthesis and a model. Ecosystems 4: 29–48.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  110. Norris, R. H. & M. C. Thoms, 1999. What is river health? Freshwater Biology 41: 197–209.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  111. Notenboom, J., S. Plenet & M. Turquin, 1994. Groundwater contamination and its impact on groundwater animals and ecosystems. In Gibert, J., D. Danielopol & J. Stanford (eds), Groundwater Ecology. Academic Press, California: 477–504.

    Google Scholar 

  112. Notenboom, J., R. Serrano, I. Morell & F. Hernandez, 1995. The phreatic aquifer of the ‘Plan de Castellon’ (Spain): relationships between animal assemblages and groundwater pollution. Hydrobiologia 294: 241–249.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  113. Novarino, G., A. Warren, L. Buttler, G. Lambourne, A. Boxshall, J. Bateman, N. E. Kinner, R. W. Harvey, R. Moss & R. Teltsch, 1997. Protozoan communities in aquifers: a review. FEMS Microbiology Review 20: 261–275.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  114. Pannell, D. J. & M. A. Ewing, 2006. Managing secondary dryland salinity: otions and challenges. Agricultural Water Management 80: 41–56.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  115. Paszczynski, A. J. & R. Paidisetti, 2007. Targeted proteomics approaches to monitor microbial activity in basalt aquifer. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2007. Abstract no B14A-06.

  116. Plenet, S. & J. Gibert, 1994. Invertebrate community responses to physical and chemical factors at the river/aquifer interaction zone: upstream form Lyon. Archiv für Hydrobiologie 132: 165–189.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  117. Pospisil, P., 1994. The groundwater fauna of a Danube aquifer in the ‘Lobau’ wetland in Vienna, Austria. In Gibert, J., D. Danielopol & J. Stanford (eds), Groundwater Ecology. Academic Press, California: 347–522.

    Google Scholar 

  118. Power, J. F. & J. A. Schepers, 1989. Nitrate contamination of groundwater in North America. Agricultural Ecosystems and Environment 26: 165–187.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  119. Preston-Mafham, J., L. Boddy & P. F. Randerson, 2002. Analysis of microbial community functional diversity using sole-carbon-source utilization profiles—a critique. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 42: 1–14.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  120. Price, M., 1996. Introducing Groundwater. Chapman and Hall, London.

    Google Scholar 

  121. Proudlove, G. S., 2001. The conservation status of hypogean fishes. Environmental Biology of Fish 62: 239–249.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  122. Rapport, D. J., R. Costanza & A. J. McMichael, 1998. Assessing ecosystem health. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 13: 397–402.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  123. Röling, W. F. M., B. M. van Breukelen, M. Braster & H. W. van Verseveld, 2000. Linking microbial community structure to pollution: biolog-substrate utilization in and near a landfill leachate plume. Water Science and Technology 41: 47–53.

    Google Scholar 

  124. Schmidt, L., A. Telfer & M. Waters, 1996. Pesticides and Nitrate in Groundwater in Relation to Landuse in the South East of South Australia. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Adelaide, South Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  125. Scrimgeour, G. J. & D. Wicklum, 1996. Aquatic ecosystem health and integrity: problems and potential solutions. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 15: 254–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  126. Shand, P. & W. M. Edmunds, 2008. The baseline inorganic chemistry of European groundwaters. In Edmunds, W. M. & P. Shand (eds), Natural Groundwater Quality. Blackwell, Oxford: 22–58.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  127. Shi, Y., M. Zwolinski, M. Schreiber, J. Bahr, G. Sewell & W. Hickey, 1998. Molecular analysis of microbial community structures in pristine and contaminated aquifers: field and laboratory microcosm experiments. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 65: 2143–2450.

    Google Scholar 

  128. Sinclair, J., D. Kampbell, M. Cook & J. Wilson, 1993. Protozoa in subsurface sediments from sites contaminated with aviation gasoline or jet fuel. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 59: 467–472.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  129. Sinton, L. W., 1984. The macroinvertebrates in a sewage-polluted aquifer. Hydrobiologia 119: 161–169.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  130. Sket, B., 1999. The nature of biodiversity in hypogean waters and how it is endangered. Biodiversity and Conservation 8: 1319–1338.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  131. Stanford, J. & J. Gibert, 1994. Conclusion and perspectives. In Gibert, J., D. Danielopol & J. Stanford (eds), Groundwater Ecology. Academic Press, California: 543–550.

    Google Scholar 

  132. Stein, H., C. Kellermann, S. I. Schmidt, H. Brielmann, C. Steube, S. E. Berkhoff, H. J. Hahn, B. Thulin & C. Griebler, 2010. The potential use of fauna and bacteria as ecological indicators for the assessment of groundwater quality. Journal of Environmental Monitoring 12: 242–254.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  133. Steube, C., S. Richter & C. Griebler, 2009. First attempts towards an integrative concept for the ecological assessment of groundwater ecosystems. Hydrogeology Journal 17: 23–35.

    Google Scholar 

  134. Stoch, F., M. Artheau, A. Brancelj, D. Galassi & F. Malard, 2009. Biodiversity indicators in European ground waters; towards a predictive model of stygobiotic species richness. Freshwater Biology 54: 745–755.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  135. Strayer, D. L., 1994. Limits to biological distributions in groundwater. In Gibert, J., D. Danielopol & J. Stanford (eds), Groundwater Ecology. Academic Press, California: 287–311.

    Google Scholar 

  136. Suter, G. W., 1993. A critique of ecosystem health concepts and indexes. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 12: 1533–1539.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  137. Tomlinson, M. 2008. A Framework for Determining Environmental Water Requirements for Alluvial Aquifer Ecosystems. PhD thesis, University of New England, Armidale, Australia.

  138. Tomlinson, M., A. Boulton, P. Hancock & P. Cook, 2007. Deliberate omission or unfortunate oversight: should stygofaunal surveys be included in routine groundwater monitoring programs. Hydrogeology Journal 15: 1317–1320.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  139. Ulanowicz, R. E., 1992. Ecosystem health and trophic flow networks. In Costanza, R., B. G. Norton & B. D. Haskell (eds), Ecosystem Health: New Goals for Environmental Management. Island Press, Washington: 190–206.

    Google Scholar 

  140. Underwood, A. J., 1997. Experiments in Ecology and Management: Their Logical Design and Interpretation Using Analysis of Variance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  141. Verhoeven, J., E. Maltby & M. Schmitz, 1990. Nitrogen and phosphorous mineralisation in fens and bogs. Journal of Ecology 78: 713–726.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  142. Vrba, J. & A. Lipponen (eds), 2007. Groundwater Resources Sustainability Indicators. IHP-VI Series in Groundwater No. 14. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Paris.

    Google Scholar 

  143. Vugteveen, P., R. Leuven, M. Huijbregts & H. Lenders, 2006. Redefinition and elaboration of river ecosystem health: perspective for river management. Hydrobiologia 565: 289–308.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  144. Ward, J. V., 1989. The four-dimensional nature of lotic ecosystems. Journal of North American Benthological Society 8: 2–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  145. Ward, J. V., N. J. Voelz & P. Marmonier, 1992. Groundwater faunas at riverine sites receiving treated sewage effluent. In Stanford, J. A. & J. J. Simons (eds), Proceedings of the First International Conference on Ground Water Ecology. American Water Resources Association, Bethesda: 351–364.

    Google Scholar 

  146. Washington, H. G., 1984. Diversity, biotic and similarity indices. A review with special reference to aquatic ecosystems. Water Research 18: 653–694.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  147. Winderl, C., S. Schaefer & T. Lueders, 2007. Detection of anaerobic toluene and hydrocarbon degraders in contaminated aquifers using benzylsuccinate synthase (bssA) genes as a functional marker. Environmental Microbiology 9: 1035–1046.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  148. Wright, J. F., D. W. Sutcliffe & M. T. Furse (eds), 2000. Assessing the Biological Quality of Fresh Waters: RIVPACS and Other Techniques. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside.

    Google Scholar 

  149. Zarda, B., G. Mattison, A. Hess, H. Hahn, P. Hohener & J. Zeyer, 1998. Analysis of bacterial and protozoan communities in an aquifer contaminated with monoaromatic hydrocarbons. FEMS Microbial Ecology 27: 141–152.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the Cotton Catchment Communities CRC and Department of Environmental Sciences, UTS, for providing financial support. NSW Office of Water provided access to bores and analyses of water. Josie Lategan assisted with field work and advice on microbiological analysis, and Norman Booth assisted with cotton strength testing. Andrew Boulton and Peter Hancock provided comments and discussion on this topic which led to the development and improvement of this manuscript. The comments of Christian Griebler and an anonymous reviewer were valuable in improving this manuscript. Peter Hancock and Peter Serov assisted with identification of stygofauna. Sarah Stephenson assisted with fieldwork.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to G. C. Hose.

Additional information

Handling editor: S.A. Halse

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Korbel, K.L., Hose, G.C. A tiered framework for assessing groundwater ecosystem health. Hydrobiologia 661, 329–349 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-010-0541-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Groundwater
  • Ecosystem health
  • Indicators
  • Aquifers
  • Stygofauna
  • Groundwater ecosystems