Special Issue "Freshwater Macroinvertebrates: Main Gaps and Future Trends"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Angela Boggero
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Researcher, CNR-IRSA Water Research Institute - Verbania, Italy
Interests: biodiversity; water management; chironomids; freshwater ecology; macroinvertebrates; ecological indicators
Dr. Laura Garzoli
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Post-Doc, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
Interests: biodiversity; conservation biology; microbial ecology; freshwater ecology; aquatic ecosystems; invasive crayfish

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Freshwater macroinvertebrates play a crucial role linking sediments and their processes to the food web. Indeed, environmental modifications (e.g., nitrogen deposition, salinity, and temperature increase), pollution (e.g., pesticides and heavy metals), and introduction of alien species are the main drivers of changes that are affecting their communities.

This Special Issue aims to present the past and present knowledge on freshwater macroinvertebrates to understand their role as providers of ecosystem services, to highlight the effects of global changes on their community (in the short and long term), and to underline major gaps in their study.

A special emphasis will be dedicated to pristine high-altitude streams and lakes, wetlands, lowland rivers, and ponds and to the usefulness of macroinvertebrates as biological indicators of environmental change for the assessment of water status.

The link between morphological taxonomy and DNA barcoding, metabarcoding, and eDNA will also be emphasized.

A focus will be dedicated to biogeography and the importance of shared, open access datasets accessible to researchers, stakeholders, and water managers in light of the undeniable growing importance of the link between research and policy.

Finally, in order to tackle the currently unsustainable use of freshwater natural capital, we welcome ideas and expert opinions on the development of future research linked to national and international regulations.

Dr. Angela Boggero
Dr. Laura Garzoli
Guest Editors

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. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 2000 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.

Keywords

  • bioindication
  • monitoring
  • ecotoxicology
  • environmental quality
  • ecosystem services
  • molecular ecology
  • taxonomy
  • biogeography
  • alien species
  • climate change

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
How to Assess the Ecological Status of Highly Humic Lakes? Development of a New Method Based on Benthic Invertebrates
Water 2021, 13(2), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13020223 - 18 Jan 2021
Viewed by 545
Abstract
Highly humic lakes are typical for the boreal zone. These unique ecosystems are characterised as relatively undisturbed habitats with brown water, high acidity, low nutrient content and lack of macrophytes. Current lake assessment methods are not appropriate for ecological assessment of highly humic [...] Read more.
Highly humic lakes are typical for the boreal zone. These unique ecosystems are characterised as relatively undisturbed habitats with brown water, high acidity, low nutrient content and lack of macrophytes. Current lake assessment methods are not appropriate for ecological assessment of highly humic lakes because of their unique properties and differing human pressures acting on these ecosystems. This study proposes a new approach suitable for the ecological status assessment of highly humic lakes impacted by hydrological modifications. Altogether, 52 macroinvertebrate samples from 15 raised bog lakes were used to develop the method. The studied lakes are located in the raised bogs at the central and eastern parts of Latvia. Altered water level was found as the main threat to the humic lake habitats since no other pressures were established. A multimetric index based on macroinvertebrate abundance, littoral and profundal preferences, Coleoptera taxa richness and the Biological Monitoring Working Party (BMWP) Score is suggested as the most suitable tool to assess the ecological quality of the highly humic lakes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Macroinvertebrates: Main Gaps and Future Trends)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Selection of Macroinvertebrate Indices and Metrics for Assessing Sediment Quality in the St. Lawrence River (QC, Canada)
Water 2020, 12(12), 3335; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123335 - 27 Nov 2020
Viewed by 510
Abstract
This study aims to evaluate the anthropogenic pressure in the St. Lawrence River by assessing the relationships between composition and chemical contamination of sediments and macroinvertebrate community structure using a selection of indices and metrics. The aims of this study are to (i) [...] Read more.
This study aims to evaluate the anthropogenic pressure in the St. Lawrence River by assessing the relationships between composition and chemical contamination of sediments and macroinvertebrate community structure using a selection of indices and metrics. The aims of this study are to (i) determine the composition of macroinvertebrate community in sediments across a gradient of disturbance, (ii) select relevant macroinvertebrate indices and metrics for the assessment of sediment quality, (iii) investigate whether responses of selected indices and metrics differ across habitats and/or sediment quality classes, and finally, (iv) determine the thresholds for critical contaminants related to significant changes in the most relevant indices and metrics. Organic and inorganic contaminants as well as other sediment variables (sediment grain size, total organic carbon, nutrients, etc.) and macroinvertebrate assemblages were determined in 59 sites along the river. Fourteen macroinvertebrate indices and metrics, on the 264 initially selected, were shown to be the most effective to be used in bioassessment for the St. Lawrence River. However, the variation in macroinvertebrate indices and metrics remains strongly explained by habitat characteristics, such as sediment grain size or the level of nutrients. There is also an influence of metals and, to a lesser extent, organic contaminants such as petroleum hydrocarbons. The 14 selected indices and metrics are promising bioassessment tools that are easy to use and interpret in an environmental assessment of sediment quality in the St. Lawrence River. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Macroinvertebrates: Main Gaps and Future Trends)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Aquatic Insects and Benthic Diatoms: A History of Biotic Relationships in Freshwater Ecosystems
Water 2020, 12(10), 2934; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102934 - 21 Oct 2020
Viewed by 648
Abstract
The most important environmental characteristic in streams is flow. Due to the force of water current, most ecological processes and taxonomic richness in streams mainly occur in the riverbed. Benthic algae (mainly diatoms) and benthic macroinvertebrates (mainly aquatic insects) are among the most [...] Read more.
The most important environmental characteristic in streams is flow. Due to the force of water current, most ecological processes and taxonomic richness in streams mainly occur in the riverbed. Benthic algae (mainly diatoms) and benthic macroinvertebrates (mainly aquatic insects) are among the most important groups in running water biodiversity, but relatively few studies have investigated their complex relationships. Here, we review the multifaceted interactions between these two important groups of lotic organisms. As the consumption of benthic algae, especially diatoms, was one of the earliest and most common trophic habits among aquatic insects, they then had to adapt to the particular habitat occupied by the algae. The environmental needs of diatoms have morphologically and behaviorally shaped their scrapers, leading to impressive evolutionary convergences between even very distant groups. Other less evident interactions are represented by the importance of insects, both in preimaginal and adult stages, in diatom dispersion. In addition, the top-down control of diatoms by their grazers contributes to their spatial organization and functional composition within the periphyton. Indeed, relationships between aquatic insects and diatoms are an important topic of study, scarcely investigated, the onset of which, hundreds of millions of years ago, has profoundly influenced the evolution of stream biological communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Macroinvertebrates: Main Gaps and Future Trends)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
The Benthic Quality Index to Assess Water Quality of Lakes May Be Affected by Confounding Environmental Features
Water 2020, 12(9), 2519; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092519 - 09 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 506
Abstract
To assess if environmental differences other than water quality may affect the outcome of the Benthic Quality Index, a comparison of the application of four different methods (Benthic Quality Index—BQIES, Lake Habitat Modification Score—LHMS, Lake Habitat Quality Assessment—LHQA and Organisation for Economic Co-operation [...] Read more.
To assess if environmental differences other than water quality may affect the outcome of the Benthic Quality Index, a comparison of the application of four different methods (Benthic Quality Index—BQIES, Lake Habitat Modification Score—LHMS, Lake Habitat Quality Assessment—LHQA and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development—OECD) used to classify the lake ecological and hydro-morphological status of 10 Italian lakes was performed. Five lakes were natural and five were reservoirs belonging to both Alpine and Mediterranean Ecoregions. The 10 lakes were sampled using the Water Framework Directive compliant standardized national protocol, which includes sampling soft sediment in the littoral, sublittoral and deep layers along transects with a grab of 225 cm2 during spring and autumn. The application of Generalised Linear Mixed Effect Models both at the lake level and at the single station of each lake highlighted that, at the lake level, no significant correlations existed between any couple of hydro-morphological, ecological and trophic status assessments, with each metric representing a different facet of human impact on the environment. At the single site level, we found significant effects of depth on the metrics of biodiversity. The best approximation of single-site macroinvertebrates diversity among the metrics of overall lake quality was with the LHMS, but not with the BQIES. Our hypotheses that lake macroinvertebrates assemblages depend also on other potential confounding variables of habitat degradation and intrinsic differences between lakes were confirmed, with depth playing a major role. Therefore, the assessment of lakes with different depths may produce different whole-lake BQIES values, only because of the effect of depth gradient and not because of differences in lake quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Macroinvertebrates: Main Gaps and Future Trends)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Macroinvertebrate Assemblages in the River Po Catchment (Northern Italy)
Water 2020, 12(9), 2452; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092452 - 31 Aug 2020
Viewed by 634
Abstract
In the last decade, large scale biomonitoring programs have been implemented to obtain a robust understanding of freshwater in the name of helping to inform and develop effective restoration and management plans. A comprehensive biomonitoring dataset on the macroinvertebrate assemblages inhabiting the rivers [...] Read more.
In the last decade, large scale biomonitoring programs have been implemented to obtain a robust understanding of freshwater in the name of helping to inform and develop effective restoration and management plans. A comprehensive biomonitoring dataset on the macroinvertebrate assemblages inhabiting the rivers of the Po Valley (northern Italy), comprised a total of 6762 sampling events (period 2007–2018), was analyzed in this study in order to examine coarse spatial and temporal trends displayed by biotic communities. Our results showed that macroinvertebrate compositions and derived structural and functional metrics were controlled by multiple environmental drivers, including altitude and climate (large scale), as well as habitat characteristics (local scale). Altitude proved to be the primary geographic driver, likely due to its association with thermal and precipitation regimes, thus explaining its overriding influence on macroinvertebrate assemblages. Significant temporal variations were observed across the study period, but notably in 2017, the overall taxonomic richness and diversity increased at the expense of Ephemeroptera, Plectoptera and Trichoptera taxa during an unprecedented heatwave that occurred across southern Europe. The detail of this study dataset allowed for important environmental attributes (e.g., altitude, habitat characteristics) shaping biotic communities to be identified, along with ecologically vulnerable regions and time periods (e.g., extreme climatic events). Such research is required globally to help inform large-scale management and restoration efforts that are sustainable over long-term periods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Macroinvertebrates: Main Gaps and Future Trends)
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Open AccessArticle
Key Determinants of Freshwater Gastropod Diversity and Distribution: The Implications for Conservation and Management
Water 2020, 12(7), 1908; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12071908 - 04 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 655
Abstract
Freshwater organisms are facing threats from various natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Using data sampled on a nationwide scale from streams in South Korea, we identified the crucial environmental factors influencing the distribution and abundance of freshwater gastropods. We used nonmetric multidimensional scaling and [...] Read more.
Freshwater organisms are facing threats from various natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Using data sampled on a nationwide scale from streams in South Korea, we identified the crucial environmental factors influencing the distribution and abundance of freshwater gastropods. We used nonmetric multidimensional scaling and the random forest model to evaluate the relationships between environmental factors and gastropod assemblages. Among the 30 recorded species, two invasive gastropod species (Pomacea canaliculata and Physa acuta) have enlarged their distribution (10.4% and 57.3% frequency of occurrence, respectively), and were found to be widespread in streams and rivers. Our results revealed that the most influential factor in the distribution of gastropod assemblages was the ratio of cobble (%) in the substrate composition, although meteorological and physiographical factors were also important. However, the main environmental factors influencing species distribution varied among species according to habitat preference and environmental tolerance. Additionally, anthropogenic disturbance caused a decrease in the distribution of endemic species and an increase in the spatial distribution of invasive species. Finally, the results of the present study provide baseline information for planning successful strategies to maintain and conserve gastropod diversity when facing anthropogenic disturbance, as well as understanding the factors associated with the establishment of invasive species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Macroinvertebrates: Main Gaps and Future Trends)
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Open AccessArticle
Alien Crayfish Species in the Deep Subalpine Lake Maggiore (NW-Italy), with a Focus on the Biometry and Habitat Preferences of the Spiny-Cheek Crayfish
Water 2020, 12(5), 1391; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051391 - 14 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 640
Abstract
Invasive alien species are a major threat to biodiversity. Thus, it is fundamental to implement control strategies at the early stages of invasions. In the framework of the Italian-Swiss Alien Invasive Species in Lake Maggiore cooperative programme, we performed an extensive study on [...] Read more.
Invasive alien species are a major threat to biodiversity. Thus, it is fundamental to implement control strategies at the early stages of invasions. In the framework of the Italian-Swiss Alien Invasive Species in Lake Maggiore cooperative programme, we performed an extensive study on the occurrence and ecology of alien crayfish, one of the most significant invaders of freshwater habitats. From April 2017 to July 2018, we inspected seventy-five sites along the coastline to verify crayfish occurrence. We recorded, for the first time, the signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus. Additionally, we found few individuals and remains of the red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii, and confirmed the presence of a consistent population of the spinycheek crayfish Orconectes limosus. Given the high number of O. limosus’ individuals found, it was possible to perform in-depth biometric and ecological analyses for this abundant species only. We observed no significant differences of biometric measures between males and females of O. limosus. We explore its habitat preferences with a generalized linear model, detecting a significant relationship between mean annual temperatures and the presence of shelters of this species. These results, together, have direct implications for planning rapid management response actions on alien crayfish in large and deep lakes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Macroinvertebrates: Main Gaps and Future Trends)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Biological, Chemical, and Ecotoxicological Assessments Using Benthos Provide Different and Complementary Measures of Lake Ecological Status
Water 2020, 12(4), 1140; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12041140 - 16 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 705
Abstract
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) aims to monitor continental water bodies in Europe to achieve good ecological status. Indexes based on biological quality elements (BQEs), ecotoxicological tests, and chemical characterizations are commonly used with standardized protocols to assess sediment quality and the associated [...] Read more.
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) aims to monitor continental water bodies in Europe to achieve good ecological status. Indexes based on biological quality elements (BQEs), ecotoxicological tests, and chemical characterizations are commonly used with standardized protocols to assess sediment quality and the associated risks. Here, we compare the results of quality assessment of benthic macroinvertebrates as BQEs as required by the WFD with the results of ecotoxicological tests and assessment of selected persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in sediments of the same eight water bodies in Italy. The aim was to verify if the assessment of quality through macroinvertebrates through POPs analyses and ecotoxicological tools can yield comparable, overlapping, or complementary results. We used the Benthic Quality Index (BQIES) for macroinvertebrates (two different applications), legacy POPs (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane and metabolites (DDTs) and polychlorinated-biphenyls (PCBs)), and the emergence ratio (ER) and development rate (DR) for ecotoxicology. The results showed that the two indices within each approach were highly correlated, but between approaches, each result can lead to a completely different scenario, with rather different results of the assessment of ecosystem quality. The most striking result was that very few significant correlations existed between sediment quality assessment through macroinvertebrates and the risk assessment through analyses of micropollutants and ecotoxicological tests. The highest absolute r-value (0.81) was for the correlation between the BQIESbottom index and PCBs for micropollutants, whereas all other pairwise comparisons between indices had r-values ranging between 0.07 and 0.53. Our analysis calls for a caveat in the blind application of one or only a few indices of water/sediment quality, as the results of a single index may not represent the complexity of a freshwater ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Macroinvertebrates: Main Gaps and Future Trends)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Assessing the Ecological Status of European Rivers and Lakes Using Benthic Invertebrate Communities: A Practical Catalogue of Metrics and Methods
Water 2021, 13(3), 346; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13030346 - 30 Jan 2021
Viewed by 479
Abstract
The Water Framework Directive requires that the ecological status of surface waters be monitored and managed if necessary. A central function in ecological status assessment has the Biological Quality Elements—organisms inhabiting surface waters—by indicating human impact on their habitat. For benthic invertebrates, a [...] Read more.
The Water Framework Directive requires that the ecological status of surface waters be monitored and managed if necessary. A central function in ecological status assessment has the Biological Quality Elements—organisms inhabiting surface waters—by indicating human impact on their habitat. For benthic invertebrates, a wide array of national methods are used, but to date no comprehensive summary of metrics and methods is available. In this study, we summarize the benthic invertebrate community metrics used in national systems to assess the ecological status of rivers, (very) large rivers, and lakes. Currently, benthic invertebrate assemblages are used in 26 national assessment systems for rivers, 13 assessment systems for very large rivers, and 21 assessment systems for lakes in the EU. In the majority of systems, the same metrics and modules are used. In the Red Queen’s race of ecosystem management this may be a disadvantage as these same metrics and module likely depict the same stressors but there is growing evidence that aquatic ecosystems are subject to highly differentiated, complex multiple stressor impacts. Method development should be fostered to identify and rank impacts in multi-stressor environments. DNA-based biomonitoring 2.0 offers to detect stressors with greater accuracy—if new tools are calibrated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Macroinvertebrates: Main Gaps and Future Trends)
Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Habitats and Diversity of Subterranean Macroscopic Freshwater Invertebrates: Main Gaps and Future Trends
Water 2020, 12(8), 2170; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12082170 - 31 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 794
Abstract
Caves are the best studied aquatic subterranean habitat, but there is a wide variety of these habitats, ranging in depth below the surface and size of the spaces (pore or habitat size). Both factors are important in setting limits to species composition and [...] Read more.
Caves are the best studied aquatic subterranean habitat, but there is a wide variety of these habitats, ranging in depth below the surface and size of the spaces (pore or habitat size). Both factors are important in setting limits to species composition and richness. In addition to caves, among the most important shallow aquatic subterranean habitats are the hyporheal (underflow of rivers and streams), the hypotelminorheal (very superficial drainages with water exiting in seeps), epikarst, and calcrete aquifers. Although it is little studied, both body size and species composition in the different habitats is different. Because of high levels of endemism and difficulty in access, no subterranean habitats are well sampled, even caves. However, there are enough data for robust generalizations about some geographic patterns. Individual hotspot caves are concentrated in the Dinaric region of southern Europe, and overall, tropical regions have fewer obligate aquatic cave dwellers (stygobionts). In all subterranean aquatic habitats, regional diversity is much higher than local diversity, but local diversity (especially single cave diversity) may be a useful predictor of regional species richness. In Europe there is a ridge of high aquatic subterranean species richness basically extending east from the French–Spanish border. Its cause may be either high productivity or that long-term temperature oscillations are at a minimum. With increased collecting and analysis, global and continental trends should become clearer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Macroinvertebrates: Main Gaps and Future Trends)
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