Special Issue "Use of Aquatic Biota to Detect Ecological Changes in Freshwater: Current Status and Future Directions"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. José Maria Santos
Website
Guest Editor
Forest Research Centre, School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: freshwater fish; ecohydraulics; habitat restoration and modeling; fish migration and passage; river regulation
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Maria Teresa Ferreira
Website
Guest Editor
Forest Research Centre, School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: Freshwater ecology and management; fish ecology and fisheries; riparian ecology; ecosystem quality assessment; river restoration
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Debuting one century ago, aquatic biota has been increasingly used worldwide to monitor and assess ecological changes as a result of environmental stressors, such as pollution, nutrient enrichment, habitat loss or overexploitation. A large number of types of biological indicators have arisen to express changes in the structure (patterns) and function (processes) of freshwater ecosystems, responding to the needs of important legislative tools, such as the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) or the Habitats directive (92/43/EEC), which require EU member states to evaluate the ecological status of surface waters using aquatic biota. Benthic invertebrates, macroscopic plants, fish, phytoplankton, and phytobenthos are all currently used as indicators in monitoring river and streams, and advances in biomonitoring are constantly described in the literature. Among these techniques, taxon-based biotic indices and multimetric approaches are the most frequently used; however, functional measures have been increasingly applied as a complementary approach to reflect ecological integrity. The latest advances in molecular techniques, such as environmental DNA and metabarcoding, seem promising in their ability to make the assessments faster, more accurate, and cost-effective, making them a promising tool to complement and replace morphological identifications. Following the experience gathered in the last quarter of a century, new issues have come to the surface, including the level of determinism of cause–effect links, the capacity of bioindicators to integrate multiscaled complex pressures, and the variability of responses of biota under different restoration scenarios and land use changes. This Special Issue invites fundamental and applied research which follows on from recent developments in the biomonitoring of freshwater ecosystems to detect environmental stressors and point out future directions.

Dr. José Maria Santos
Prof. Maria Teresa Ferreira
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • freshwater ecosystems
  • biological quality elements (BQE)
  • biomonitoring
  • ecological quality
  • multimetric indices
  • functional guilds
  • eDNA

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Can the Stream Quantification Tool (SQT) Protocol Predict the Biotic Condition of Streams in the Southeast Piedmont (USA)?
Water 2020, 12(5), 1485; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051485 - 22 May 2020
Abstract
In some states, the Stream Quantification Tool (SQT) has been adopted to quantify functional change of stream mitigation efforts. However, the ability of the SQT protocol to predict biological function and uphold the premise of the Stream Functions Pyramid (Pyramid) remains untested. Macroinvertebrate [...] Read more.
In some states, the Stream Quantification Tool (SQT) has been adopted to quantify functional change of stream mitigation efforts. However, the ability of the SQT protocol to predict biological function and uphold the premise of the Stream Functions Pyramid (Pyramid) remains untested. Macroinvertebrate community metrics in 34 headwater streams in Piedmont, North Carolina (NC, USA) were related to NC SQT protocol (version 3.0) factors and other variables relevant to ecological function. Three statistical models, including stepwise, lasso, and ridge regression were used to predict the NC Biotic Index (NCBI) and Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera (EPT) richness using two datasets: 21 SQT variables and the SQT variables plus 13 additional watershed, hydraulic, geomorphic, and physicochemical variables. Cross-validation revealed that stepwise and ridge outperformed lasso, and that the SQT variables can reasonably predict biology metrics (R2 0.53–0.64). Additional variables improved prediction (R2 0.70–0.88), suggesting that the SQT protocol is lacking metrics important to macroinvertebrates. Results moderately support the Pyramid: highly predictive ridge models included metrics from all levels, while highly predictive stepwise models included metrics from higher levels, and not watershed hydrology. Reach-scale metrics were more important than watershed hydrology, providing encouragement for projects limited by watershed condition. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Urgent Need for River Health Biomonitoring Tools for Large Tropical Rivers in Developing Countries: Preliminary Development of a River Health Monitoring Tool for Myanmar Rivers
Water 2020, 12(5), 1408; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051408 - 15 May 2020
Abstract
Anthropogenic pressures such as river infrastructure, agriculture and power generation are rapidly increasing in Southeast Asia, aimed at providing food security within the region. However, this will lead to unintended river health consequences, and, currently, most Southeast Asian countries have no country-specific tools [...] Read more.
Anthropogenic pressures such as river infrastructure, agriculture and power generation are rapidly increasing in Southeast Asia, aimed at providing food security within the region. However, this will lead to unintended river health consequences, and, currently, most Southeast Asian countries have no country-specific tools for monitoring river health. In Myanmar, one of Southeast Asia’s poorest and most rapidly developing countries, no country-specific tools exist, and there is an urgent need to provide tools that can inform better management and trade-off decision making. This research evaluated three rapid macroinvertebrate bioassessment methods under Myanmar conditions. The objective of the research was to assess the applicability of existing internationally accepted indexing methods for use in Myanmar. Through taxa identification in the laboratory and statistical analysis, it was concluded that the method with the best fit for Myanmar taxa is The Asia Foundation index method, although differences were small. This Asia Foundation method is comparable to the Australian Waterwatch method but includes a family present in our samples that is not included in the Waterwatch method. We then modified this method to include Myanmar taxa not recorded in The Asia Foundation method. The modified index method could be further developed into a Myanmar specific tool for widespread use potentially in combination with the also tested miniSASS, a much easier order-based method better suitable for non-professionals. We recommend additional testing using sites on other rivers across the country to establish a professional indexing method for Myanmar. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Fish-Based Index of Biotic Integrity for Neotropical Rainforest Sandy Soil Streams—Southern Brazil
Water 2020, 12(4), 1215; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12041215 - 24 Apr 2020
Abstract
Multimetric indices are considered a low-cost and rapid means of assessing ecological integrity in streams. This study aimed to develop a fish-based Index of Biotic Integrity (N3S-IBI) in an agricultural region within the domains of the Atlantic rainforest in Brazil. We sampled 23 [...] Read more.
Multimetric indices are considered a low-cost and rapid means of assessing ecological integrity in streams. This study aimed to develop a fish-based Index of Biotic Integrity (N3S-IBI) in an agricultural region within the domains of the Atlantic rainforest in Brazil. We sampled 23 first-order streams and used large-scale land use and a local physical condition index to choose reference sites and to classify sites according to the disturbance level. N3S-IBI resulted in six metrics (Simpson’s dominance; the numbers of Characiformes and non-native individuals (Poecilia reticulata); and the percentages of Characidae species, intolerant insectivorous individuals, and tolerant species), contemplating tolerance, composition, abundance, richness, trophic habits, and origin. The low number of metrics contributes to a quick and easy biomonitoring process. N3S-IBI showed an excellent performance to separate least and most disturbed sites in our study area and can provide additional knowledge about anthropogenic effects within this impacted region. In fact, this tool could be utilized by managers to direct restoration actions for the most disturbed sites and to strengthen the preservation of the least disturbed sites. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Macrophyte Index for Rivers (MIR) as an Advantageous Approach to Running Water Assessment in Local Geographical Conditions
Water 2020, 12(1), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010108 - 29 Dec 2019
Abstract
The Macrophyte Index for Rivers (MIR) was developed in 2007, and it was one of the first biological methods developed in Poland under the requirements of the Water Framework Directive to assess the ecological status of running waters. It is based on the [...] Read more.
The Macrophyte Index for Rivers (MIR) was developed in 2007, and it was one of the first biological methods developed in Poland under the requirements of the Water Framework Directive to assess the ecological status of running waters. It is based on the quantitative and qualitative evaluation of 153 indicator taxa. The aim of this study was to evaluate the ability of the MIR method to detect trophic degradation in rivers and to compare its efficiency with other macrophyte metrics. Our investigation was based on 100 sites, representing a very clear gradient from near oligotrophic to eutrophic conditions. The results showed that macrophytes can be distinguished in terms of their ecological requirements for nutrient concentration in water, and this can be used to develop an effective system of freshwater assessment. The MIR was shown to be the indicator most strongly correlated with various forms of nutrients, and it was demonstrated that calibration of the macrophyte method to local biogeographical conditions resulted in greater effectiveness of the assessment method. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Bryophyte Communities along a Tropical Urban River Respond to Heavy Metal and Arsenic Pollution
Water 2019, 11(4), 813; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040813 - 18 Apr 2019
Abstract
Aquatic and rheophilous bryophytes can indicate water pollution as they bioaccumulate toxic water elements. We evaluated (1) bioaccumulation of eight heavy metals and arsenic by Marchantia polymorpha L., and (2) changes in bryophyte community structure, as responses to urban pollution in southern Ecuador. [...] Read more.
Aquatic and rheophilous bryophytes can indicate water pollution as they bioaccumulate toxic water elements. We evaluated (1) bioaccumulation of eight heavy metals and arsenic by Marchantia polymorpha L., and (2) changes in bryophyte community structure, as responses to urban pollution in southern Ecuador. To this end, we registered presence/absence and coverage of submerged bryophytes in 120 quadrats across three zones of the Zamora river inside Loja city, and a control zone in a nearby forest. We found that the concentrations of five (Al, Cd, Cu, Fe, and Zn) of the eight chemical elements and arsenic were highest in urban M. polymorpha. Moreover, bryophyte species richness decreased in urban zones. Bryophyte community structure also differed between control and city zones, but no differences were found among city zones. The control zone was composed by a more distinct set of bryophyte species, e.g., an indicator species analysis showed that 16 species had high and significant indicator values for control zone, but only 11 species were indicators of at least one of the three urban zones. We concluded that bryophytes, in general, and M. polymorpha, in particular, can be suitable biomonitors of water quality in tropical urban rivers. Full article
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