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Open AccessArticle

AQUALIFE Software: A New Tool for a Standardized Ecological Assessment of Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems

Research Centre for Ecological Change, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 4 FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L’Aquila, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
Italian National Research Council, Research Institute on Terrestrial Ecosystems, Via Madonna del Piano 10, Sesto Fiorentino, 50019 Florence, Italy
Gis3W S.r.l, Viale Verdi 24, Montecatini Terme, 51016 Pistoia, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(12), 2574;
Received: 30 October 2019 / Revised: 27 November 2019 / Accepted: 2 December 2019 / Published: 6 December 2019
We introduce a suite of software tools aimed at investigating multiple bio-ecological facets of aquatic Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs). The suite focuses on: (1) threats posed by pollutants to GDE invertebrates (Ecological Risk, ER); (2) threats posed by hydrological and hydromorphological alterations on the subsurface zone of lotic systems and groundwater-fed springs (Hydrological-Hydromorphological Risk, HHR); and (3) the conservation priority of GDE communities (Groundwater Biodiversity Concern index, GBC). The ER is assessed by comparing tolerance limits of invertebrate species to specific pollutants with the maximum observed concentration of the same pollutants at the target site(s). Comparison is based on an original, comprehensive dataset including the most updated information on tolerance to 116 pollutants for 474 freshwater invertebrate species. The HHR is assessed by accounting for the main direct and indirect effects on both the hyporheic zone of lotic systems and groundwater-fed springs, and by scoring each impact according to the potential effect on subsurface invertebrates. Finally, the GBC index is computed on the basis of the taxonomical composition of a target community, and allows the evaluation of its conservation priority in comparison to others. View Full-Text
Keywords: AQUALIFE software; groundwater dependent ecosystems; threats; biodiversity AQUALIFE software; groundwater dependent ecosystems; threats; biodiversity
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Strona, G.; Fattorini, S.; Fiasca, B.; Di Lorenzo, T.; Di Cicco, M.; Lorenzetti, W.; Boccacci, F.; Galassi, D.M.P. AQUALIFE Software: A New Tool for a Standardized Ecological Assessment of Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems. Water 2019, 11, 2574.

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