Special Issue "Aquatic Environmental Monitoring and Assessment"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Michelle Gray
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management & Canadian Rivers Institute, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB E3B 5A3, Canada
Interests: environmental assessment; environmental monitoring; freshwater ecology; water quality; fish health; invertebrate community response

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The field of aquatic environmental monitoring and assessment has experienced many changes and advancements over recent decades. These range from shifts in study design to more adaptive approaches, to the advancement of genetic tools and techniques to assess presence/absence, and to diversity. With continued threats to freshwater and marine ecosystem functions and ecosystem services from habitat modification and destruction, pollution, population decline, invasive species, and climate change, this Special Issue will provide a stage upon which basic and applied research in aquatic monitoring and assessment can apply new approaches and techniques to address the challenges of aquatic monitoring across variable spatial and temporal scales to address the topics listed above.

Dr. Michelle Gray
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Diversity is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Interannual Variation of Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities at Long-Term Monitoring Sites Impacted by Human Activities: Implications for Bioassessment
Diversity 2019, 11(9), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11090167 - 16 Sep 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1083
Abstract
Bioassessment assumes that ecological conditions remain stable in the absence of environmental changes. Evidence suggests this assumption may hold for reference streams, but knowledge gaps remain for impacted streams. Our study quantified interannual variation of benthic macroinvertebrate communities, monitored for at least 14 [...] Read more.
Bioassessment assumes that ecological conditions remain stable in the absence of environmental changes. Evidence suggests this assumption may hold for reference streams, but knowledge gaps remain for impacted streams. Our study quantified interannual variation of benthic macroinvertebrate communities, monitored for at least 14 years in eight impacted streams in the Upper Thames River watershed in Ontario, Canada. Benthic communities exhibited moderate interannual variation in relative abundance of EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera) and Chironomidae taxa. Year-to-year changes were reflected in lower community persistence than that observed in studies of reference streams. In contrast, tolerance-based metrics showed minimal interannual variation, suggesting compositional changes were because of taxonomic substitutions, in which one tolerant taxon replaced another. Analyses indicated limited directionality in temporal variation for most bioassessment metrics. An exception was taxa richness, which increased at most sites, possibly because of changes in subsampling. However, no associations between calculated bioassessment metrics and measured environmental factors (stream flow and water chemistry) or sampling procedures were observed. We conclude interannual variation in ecological conditions can be substantial and may not be associated with deterministic factors routinely measured in stream assessments. We recommend increased sampling frequency and traits-based assessment as options for limiting effects of interannual variation on assessment results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Environmental Monitoring and Assessment)
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Article
A Comparison of Systematic Quadrat and Capture-Mark-Recapture Sampling Designs for Assessing Freshwater Mussel Populations
Diversity 2019, 11(8), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11080127 - 07 Aug 2019
Viewed by 1291
Abstract
Our study objective was to compare the relative effectiveness and efficiency of quadrat and capture-mark-recapture (CMR) sampling designs for monitoring mussels. We collected data on a recently reintroduced population of federally endangered Epioblasma capsaeformis and two nonlisted, naturally occurring species—Actinonaias pectorosa and [...] Read more.
Our study objective was to compare the relative effectiveness and efficiency of quadrat and capture-mark-recapture (CMR) sampling designs for monitoring mussels. We collected data on a recently reintroduced population of federally endangered Epioblasma capsaeformis and two nonlisted, naturally occurring species—Actinonaias pectorosa and Medionidus conradicus—in the Upper Clinch River, Virginia, over two years using systematic quadrat and CMR sampling. Both sampling approaches produced similar estimates of abundance; however, precision of estimates varied between approaches, years, and among species, and further, quadrat sampling efficiency of mussels detectable on the substrate surface varied among species. CMR modeling revealed that capture probabilities for all three study species varied by time and were positively associated with shell length, that E. capsaeformis detection was influenced by sex, and that year-to-year apparent survival was high (>96%) for reintroduced E. capsaeformis. We recommend that monitoring projects use systematic quadrat sampling when the objective is to estimate and detect trends in abundance for species of moderate to high densities (>0.2/m2), whereas a CMR component should be incorporated when objectives include assessing reintroduced populations, obtaining reliable estimates of survival and recruitment, or producing unbiased population estimates for species of low to moderate densities (≤0.2/m2). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Environmental Monitoring and Assessment)
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Article
Risks of Mixtures of Oil Sands Contaminants to a Sensitive Mayfly Sentinel, Hexagenia
Diversity 2019, 11(8), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11080118 - 24 Jul 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1329
Abstract
Tailings ponds in northeastern Alberta, Canada contain massive amounts of oil sands process water (OSPW) that cannot currently be released due to the toxicity of some components. Limited space and the need for reclamation of oil sands operation sites will necessitate the release [...] Read more.
Tailings ponds in northeastern Alberta, Canada contain massive amounts of oil sands process water (OSPW) that cannot currently be released due to the toxicity of some components. Limited space and the need for reclamation of oil sands operation sites will necessitate the release of OSPW in the near future. Knowledge of the composition and toxicity of OSPW is lacking yet is crucial for both risk assessment and management planning. This study examines chronic toxicity of a mixture of OSPW components sodium naphthenate and naphthenic acid (NA) to nymphs of the mayfly Hexagenia spp. in control and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)-spiked sediment treatments. The objective of this study was to determine whether the addition of the PAH-spiked sediment significantly contributed to or masked responses of these sensitive mayflies to mixtures of NA. Mean survival in nymphs exposed to NA and PAH-spiked sediment treatments was reduced by 48% compared to those exposed to the NA mixture alone. Lethal responses were observed in all of the PAH-spiked sediment treatments. However, within PAH-spiked and control sediment treatments, there was no significant difference in nymph survival due to NA concentration, indicating that changes in survivorship were predominantly a reflection of increased mortality associated with sediment PAHs and not to the NA mixture treatment. Sublethal effects on body segment ratios suggest that mayflies exposed to NA and PAH-spiked sediment, as well as those exposed to the highest NA concentration tested (1 mg/L) and control sediment, made developmental trade-offs in order to emerge faster and escape a stressful environment. These results reveal that the release of OSPW to the surrounding environment could cause a reduction in mayfly populations. Mayflies provide ecosystem services and are an important food source for higher trophic levels in both the aquatic and terrestrial communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Environmental Monitoring and Assessment)
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Article
Accuracy and Precision of Low-Cost Echosounder and Automated Data Processing Software for Habitat Mapping in a Large River
Diversity 2019, 11(7), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11070116 - 19 Jul 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2036
Abstract
The development of consumer hydroacoustic systems continues to advance, enabling the use of low-cost methods for professional mapping purposes. Information describing habitat characteristics produced with a combination of low-cost commercial echosounder (Lowrance HDS) and a cloud-based automated data processing tool (BioBase EcoSound) was [...] Read more.
The development of consumer hydroacoustic systems continues to advance, enabling the use of low-cost methods for professional mapping purposes. Information describing habitat characteristics produced with a combination of low-cost commercial echosounder (Lowrance HDS) and a cloud-based automated data processing tool (BioBase EcoSound) was tested. The combination frequently underestimated water depth, with a mean absolute error of 0.17 ± 0.13 m (avg ± 1SD). The average EcoSound bottom hardness value was high (0.37–0.5) for all the substrate types found in the study area and could not be used to differentiate between the substrate size classes that varied from silt to bedrock. Overall, the bottom hardness value is not informative in an alluvial river bed setting where the majority of the substrate is composed of hard sands, gravels, and stones. EcoSound separated vegetation presence/absence with 85–100% accuracy and assigned vegetation height (EcoSound biovolume) correctly in 55% of instances but often overestimated it in other instances. It was most accurate when the vegetation canopy was ≤25% or >75% of the water column. Overall, as a low-cost, easy-to-use application EcoSound offers rapid data collection and allows users with no specialized skill requirements to make more detailed bathymetry and vegetation maps than those typically available for many rivers, lakes, and estuaries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Environmental Monitoring and Assessment)
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Article
Utility of Condition Indices as Predictors of Lipid Content in Slimy Sculpin (Cottus cognatus)
Diversity 2019, 11(5), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11050071 - 29 Apr 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1333
Abstract
Slimy sculpin (Cottus cognatus) are increasingly being used as indicator species. This has primarily entailed measuring their condition, the assumption being that condition can be used as a surrogate for lipid content. While there is evidence to suggest this assumption is [...] Read more.
Slimy sculpin (Cottus cognatus) are increasingly being used as indicator species. This has primarily entailed measuring their condition, the assumption being that condition can be used as a surrogate for lipid content. While there is evidence to suggest this assumption is applicable to some fish, it has yet to be validated for C. cognatus. Further, there are several means by which one may calculate condition, the most commonly employed of which are indirect measurements of lipid content (namely, Fulton’s K, somatic K (Ks), and Le Cren’s relative condition factor (Kn)). We compared the ability of each of these morphometric indices to predict whole-body lipid content in C. cognatus. There was a moderate degree of evidence that Fulton’s K, Ks, and Kn are reliable predictors (Ks and Kn in particular). Of the latter we recommend Kn be used because, unlike Ks, it does not require that fish be killed. And while Fulton’s K did not perform quite as well, we consider it a sufficient substitute if the data necessary to calculate Kn are unavailable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Environmental Monitoring and Assessment)
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Review

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Review
Principles and Challenges for Multi-Stakeholder Development of Focused, Tiered, and Triggered, Adaptive Monitoring Programs for Aquatic Environments
Diversity 2019, 11(9), 155; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11090155 - 04 Sep 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 959
Abstract
In Canada, there is almost 30 years of experience in developing tiered and triggered adaptive monitoring programs focused on looking at whether environmental concerns remain when pulp and paper mills, or metal mines, are in compliance with their discharge limits. These environmental effects [...] Read more.
In Canada, there is almost 30 years of experience in developing tiered and triggered adaptive monitoring programs focused on looking at whether environmental concerns remain when pulp and paper mills, or metal mines, are in compliance with their discharge limits. These environmental effects monitoring programs were based on nationally standardized designs. Many of the programs have been developed through multi-stakeholder working groups, and the evolution of the program faced repeated frictions and differing opinions on how to design environmental monitoring programs. This paper describes key guidance to work through the initial steps in program design, and includes scientific advice based on lessons learned from the development of the Canadian aquatic environmental effects monitoring program. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aquatic Environmental Monitoring and Assessment)
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