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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Model-Based Analysis of the Potential of Macroinvertebrates as Indicators for Microbial Pathogens in Rivers

Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic Ecology, Department of Animal Sciences and Applied Ecology, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, Ghent 9000, Belgium
BIOMATH, Department of Mathematical Modelling, Statistics and Bio-informatics, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Programa para el manejo del agua y del suelo – PROMAS, Universidad de Cuenca, Av. 12 de Abril s/n y Agustín Cueva, 010103 Cuenca, Ecuador
Asociación de Consultores Técnicos – ACOTECNIC Cia. Ltda., Aguaruna s/n y Autopista Cuenca Azogues, 010109 Cuenca, Ecuador
Empresa Pública Municipal de Telecomunicaciones, Agua Potable, Alcantarillado y Saneamiento–ETAPA EP. Ecuador, Benigno Malo No. 7–78 y Mariscal Sucre, 010101 Cuenca, Ecuador
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2018, 10(4), 375;
Received: 6 December 2017 / Revised: 16 March 2018 / Accepted: 21 March 2018 / Published: 24 March 2018
The quality of water prior to its use for drinking, farming or recreational purposes must comply with several physicochemical and microbiological standards to safeguard society and the environment. In order to satisfy these standards, expensive analyses and highly trained personnel in laboratories are required. Whereas macroinvertebrates have been used as ecological indicators to review the health of aquatic ecosystems. In this research, the relationship between microbial pathogens and macrobenthic invertebrate taxa was examined in the Machangara River located in the southern Andes of Ecuador, in which 33 sites, according to their land use, were chosen to collect physicochemical, microbiological and biological parameters. Decision tree models (DTMs) were used to generate rules that link the presence and abundance of some benthic families to microbial pathogen standards. The aforementioned DTMs provide an indirect, approximate, and quick way of checking the fulfillment of Ecuadorian regulations for water use related to microbial pathogens. The models built and optimized with the WEKA package, were evaluated based on both statistical and ecological criteria to make them as clear and simple as possible. As a result, two different and reliable models were obtained, which could be used as proxy indicators in a preliminary assessment of pollution of microbial pathogens in rivers. The DTMs can be easily applied by staff with minimal training in the identification of the sensitive taxa selected by the models. The presence of selected macroinvertebrate taxa in conjunction with the decision trees can be used as a screening tool to evaluate sites that require additional follow up analyses to confirm whether microbial water quality standards are met. View Full-Text
Keywords: Baetidae; Scirtidae; Perlidae; classification tree models; water use standards; fecal coliforms Baetidae; Scirtidae; Perlidae; classification tree models; water use standards; fecal coliforms
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Jerves-Cobo, R.; Córdova-Vela, G.; Iñiguez-Vela, X.; Díaz-Granda, C.; Van Echelpoel, W.; Cisneros, F.; Nopens, I.; Goethals, P.L.M. Model-Based Analysis of the Potential of Macroinvertebrates as Indicators for Microbial Pathogens in Rivers. Water 2018, 10, 375.

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