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Article

Rwenzori Score (RS): A Benthic Macroinvertebrate Index for Biomonitoring Rivers and Streams in the Rwenzori Region, Uganda

1
Aquatic Ecology Research Group, Ghent University, Coupure Links 659, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
2
Provincial Center of Environmental Research, Godshuizenlaan 95, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10473; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410473
Received: 27 August 2020 / Revised: 10 December 2020 / Accepted: 11 December 2020 / Published: 15 December 2020
The Rwenzori region in Uganda, a global biodiversity hotspot, is currently undergoing exponential economic and population growth, which puts continuous stress on its freshwater ecosystems. In Sub-Saharan Africa, biomonitoring campaigns using region-specific biotic indices is limited, particularly in Uganda. In this research, we present the Rwenzori Score (RS), a new macroinvertebrate-based biotic index developed to specifically assess the aquatic health of Rwenzori streams and rivers. We collected and measured both biological and physicochemical variables and identified 34,202 macroinvertebrates, belonging to 64 different taxa. The RS was developed in two steps. First, using canonical ordination, we identified chemical variables that correlated significantly with gradients in macroinvertebrate assemblage distribution and diversity. Second, based on selected variables and weighted averages, we determined specific family indicator values and assigned pollution tolerance values (varying from 1: tolerant; to 10: sensitive) to a family. Finally, we established four water quality classes: poor, fair, good, and excellent. The RS is highly correlated with the Average Score Per Taxon System (p < 0.05), a well-known and widely used biotic index. The RS has 5 unique taxa that are not included in other regional indices. In this regard, the development of the RS is a beneficial tool for tailor-made biomonitoring that can contribute to the sustainable development of the Rwenzori stream and river basins. View Full-Text
Keywords: water quality; ecological assessment; environmental monitoring; Sub-Saharan Africa macroinvertebrates; Rwenzori; weighted averaging; bio index; rivers; Uganda water quality; ecological assessment; environmental monitoring; Sub-Saharan Africa macroinvertebrates; Rwenzori; weighted averaging; bio index; rivers; Uganda
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MDPI and ACS Style

Musonge, P.L.S.; Boets, P.; Lock, K.; Ambarita, M.N.D.; Forio, M.A.E.; Goethals, P.L.M. Rwenzori Score (RS): A Benthic Macroinvertebrate Index for Biomonitoring Rivers and Streams in the Rwenzori Region, Uganda. Sustainability 2020, 12, 10473. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410473

AMA Style

Musonge PLS, Boets P, Lock K, Ambarita MND, Forio MAE, Goethals PLM. Rwenzori Score (RS): A Benthic Macroinvertebrate Index for Biomonitoring Rivers and Streams in the Rwenzori Region, Uganda. Sustainability. 2020; 12(24):10473. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410473

Chicago/Turabian Style

Musonge, Peace L.S., Pieter Boets, Koen Lock, Minar N.D. Ambarita, Marie A.E. Forio, and Peter L.M. Goethals 2020. "Rwenzori Score (RS): A Benthic Macroinvertebrate Index for Biomonitoring Rivers and Streams in the Rwenzori Region, Uganda" Sustainability 12, no. 24: 10473. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410473

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