Special Issue "Assessment of Species Community Structure and Ecological Water Quality"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Quality and Contamination".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 January 2022) | Viewed by 3464

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Pieter Boets
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Provincial Centre of Environmental Research, Godshuizenlaan 95, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Interests: constructed wetlands; biological monitoring; alien invasive species; water quality; aquatic ecology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

During the early 1990s, the aquatic biodiversity was low in many Western countries due to wastewater discharge, changes in hydromorphology, and a lack of good environmental management. Thanks to a good legislative framework (the European Water Framework Directive) a big step forward has been taken to achieve surface waters with a good ecological status. At present, new challenges lie ahead of us. Due to climate change, rapid expansion of the human population, and human activities, freshwater ecosystems remain some of the most vulnerable systems on Earth. In addition, although the chemical water quality has improved drastically in many Western countries, this has not always translated into an increase in aquatic biodiversity. At the same time, freshwater ecosystems worldwide continue to be polluted. If we want to achieve a good ecological status and preserve aquatic biodiversity, extra efforts will be required. Since resources are limited, it is important to provide policies with well-supported research. For this Special Issue, entitled “Assessment of Species Community Structure and Ecological Water Quality”, we call for papers assessing the ecological quality of freshwaters and investigating the effect of environmental changes on aquatic communities. Studies that provide relevant input for decision-makers in water management are particularly welcome.

Dr. Pieter Boets
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • ecological water quality
  • macroinvertebrates
  • fish
  • biotic indices
  • biological monitoring
  • ecological modeling

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
Variation in the Structure and Composition of Bacterial Communities within Drinking Water Fountains in Melbourne, Australia
Water 2022, 14(6), 908; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14060908 - 14 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 887
Abstract
Modern drinking water distributions systems (DWDSs) have been designed to transport treated or untreated water safely to the consumer. DWDSs are complex environments where microorganisms are able to create their own niches within water, biofilm or sediment. This study was conducted on twelve [...] Read more.
Modern drinking water distributions systems (DWDSs) have been designed to transport treated or untreated water safely to the consumer. DWDSs are complex environments where microorganisms are able to create their own niches within water, biofilm or sediment. This study was conducted on twelve drinking fountains (of three different types, namely types A, B and C) within the Melbourne (Australia) city area with the aim to (i) characterize the water quality and viable and total counts at each fountain, (ii) compare the differences in the structure and diversity of the bacterial community between bulk water and biofilm and (iii) determine differences between the bacterial communities based on fountain type. Samples of water and biofilm were assessed using both culture-dependent and culture-independent techniques. Heterotrophic plate counts of water samples ranged from 0.5 to 107.5 CFU mL−1, and as expected, total cell counts (cells mL−1) were, on average, 2.9 orders of magnitude higher. Based on the mean relative abundance of operational taxonomic units (OTUs), ANOSIM showed that the structure of the bacterial communities in drinking water and biofilm varied significantly (R = 0.58, p = 0.001). Additionally, ANOSIM showed that across fountain types (in water), the bacterial community was more diverse in fountain type C compared to type A (p < 0.001) and type B (p < 0.001). 16S rRNA next-generation sequencing revealed that the bacterial communities in both water and biofilm were dominated by only seven phyla, with Proteobacteria accounting for 71.3% of reads in water and 68.9% in biofilm. The next most abundant phylum was Actinobacteria (10.4% water; 11.7% biofilm). In water, the genus with the highest overall mean relative abundance was Sphingomonas (24.2%), while Methylobacterium had the highest mean relative abundance in biofilm samples (54.7%). At the level of genus and higher, significant differences in dominance were found across fountain types. In water, Solirubrobacterales (order) were present in type C fountains at a relative abundance of 17%, while the mean relative abundance of Sphingomonas sp. in type C fountains was less than half that in types A (25%) and B (43%). In biofilm, the relative abundance of Sphingomonas sp. was more than double in type A (10%) fountains compared to types B (4%) and C (5%), and Sandarakinorhabdus sp. were high in type A fountains (6%) and low in types B and C (1%). Overall this research showed that there were significant differences in the composition of bacterial communities in water and biofilm from the same site. Furthermore, significant variation exists between microbial communities present in the fountain types, which may be related to age. Long-established environments may lead to a greater chance of certain bacteria gaining abilities such as increased disinfection resistance. Variations between the structure of the bacterial community residing in water and biofilm and differences between fountain types show that it is essential to regularly test samples from individual locations to determine microbial quality. Full article
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Article
The Relative Importance of Human Disturbance, Environmental and Spatial Factors on the Community Composition of Wetland Birds
Water 2021, 13(23), 3448; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13233448 - 04 Dec 2021
Viewed by 707
Abstract
The present study investigates the relative importance of human disturbance, local environmental and spatial factors on variations in bird community composition in natural Ethiopian wetlands with high biodiversity conservation value. We quantified bird abundances, local environmental variables and human disturbances at 63 sites [...] Read more.
The present study investigates the relative importance of human disturbance, local environmental and spatial factors on variations in bird community composition in natural Ethiopian wetlands with high biodiversity conservation value. We quantified bird abundances, local environmental variables and human disturbances at 63 sites distributed over ten wetlands in two subsequent years. Variation partitioning analyses were used to explore the unique and shared contributions of human disturbance, local environmental variables and spatial factors on variations in community compositions of wetland bird species. Local environmental variables explained the largest amount of compositional variation of wetland bird species. Productivity-related variables were the most important local environmental variables determining bird community composition. Human disturbance was also an important determinant for wetland bird community composition and affected the investigated communities mainly indirectly through its effect on local environmental conditions. Spatial factors only played a minor role in variations in bird community composition. Our study highlights the urgent need for integrated management approaches that consider both nature conservation targets and socio-economic development of the region for the sustainable use and effective conservation of wetland resources. Full article
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Article
Testing the Sensitivity and Limitations of Frequently Used Aquatic Biota Indices in Temperate Mountain Streams and Plain Streams of China
Water 2021, 13(23), 3318; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13233318 - 23 Nov 2021
Viewed by 462
Abstract
Different biological groups show biased responses to similar or different environmental stressors on different scales. The selection of bioindicators based on pressure characteristics is the basis for accurately assessing ecological quality. In this study, we investigated the responses of common bioindicators, namely, macroinvertebrates [...] Read more.
Different biological groups show biased responses to similar or different environmental stressors on different scales. The selection of bioindicators based on pressure characteristics is the basis for accurately assessing ecological quality. In this study, we investigated the responses of common bioindicators, namely, macroinvertebrates and fish, to multiple stressors in temperate mountain and plain streams of northeast China. We used 56 indices, including the single biological evaluation index and biological evaluation index system, to analyze and compare characteristic response to different scales under varying environmental stressors. The principal component analysis (PCA) showed that PCA axis 1 in the catchment scale explained 83.6% and 96.1% of the variance in mountain and plain rivers, respectively, which characterized the comprehensive pressure gradient integrated by land-use development and water pollution. PCA axis 1 explained 40.7% and 53.9% of variance in mountain and plain rivers on the reach scale and 63.1% and 61.8% of variance on the site scale. The correlation analysis showed responses of different indices to abiotic variables which did not overlap. Macroinvertebrate and fish indices successfully explained the change in water chemistry on a small scale, whereas fish indices additionally explained the change in land use on a large scale. Macroinvertebrate and fish indices were recommended because of their rich responses to environmental stressors, particularly in plain rivers. For mountain stream biomonitoring programs, especially in the Taizi River of northeastern China, we suggest that macroinvertebrates and fish should be used separately or jointly according to the actual capacity and cost, Moreover, compared with the possible differences in the evaluation results of different single biological evaluation indexes, the biological evaluation index system shows more stable monitoring results, and the single sensitivity index is more significant in biological evaluation, and more sensitive to some special environmental factors. Full article
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Article
Setting Priorities in River Management Using Habitat Suitability Models
Water 2021, 13(7), 886; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13070886 - 24 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 864
Abstract
Worldwide river systems are under pressure from human development. River managers need to identify the most important stressors in a stream basin, to propose effective management interventions for river restoration. In the European Union, the Water Framework Directive proposes the ecological status as [...] Read more.
Worldwide river systems are under pressure from human development. River managers need to identify the most important stressors in a stream basin, to propose effective management interventions for river restoration. In the European Union, the Water Framework Directive proposes the ecological status as the management endpoint for these interventions. Many decision support tools exist that use predictive water quality models to evaluate different river management scenarios, but only a few consider a river’s ecological status in this analysis explicitly. This paper presents a novel method, which combines abiotic monitoring data and biological monitoring data, to provide information and insight on why the ecological status does not reach the good status. We use habitat suitability models as a decision support tool, which can identify the most important stressors in river systems to define management scenarios. To this end, we disassemble the ecological status into its individual building blocks, i.e., the community composition, and we use habitat suitability models to perform an ecological gap analysis. In this paper, we present our method and its underlying ecological concepts, and we illustrate its benefits by applying the method on a regional level for Flanders using a biotic index, the Multimetric Macroinvertebrate Index Flanders (MMIF). To evaluate our method, we calculated the number of correctly classified instances (CCI = 47.7%) and the root-mean-square error (RMSE = 0.18) on the MMIF class and the MMIF value. Furthermore, there is a monotonic decreasing relationship between the results of the priority classification and the ecological status expressed by the MMIF, which is strengthened by the inclusion of ecological concepts in our method (Pearson’s R2 −0.92 vs. −0.87). In addition, the results of our method are complementary to information derived from the legal targets set for abiotic variables. Thus, our proposed method can further optimize the inclusion of monitoring data for the sake of sustainable decisions in river management. Full article
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