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Title: European aquatic ecological assessment methods: A critical review of their sensitivity to key pressures
Authors: Poikane, Sandra; Herrero, Fuensanta Salas; Kelly, Martyn G. and Borja, Angel; Birk, Sebastian; van de Bund, Wouter
Abstract: The European Union has embarked on a policy which aims to achieve good ecological status in all surface waters (i.e. rivers, lakes, transitional and coastalwaters). In theory, ecological status assessmentmethods should address the effects of all relevant human pressures. In this study, we analyze the degree to which methods European countries use to assess ecological status tackle various pressures affecting European waters. Nutrient pollution is by far the best-covered pressure for all four water categories. Out of total of 423 assessment methods, 370 assess eutrophication and pressure-specific relationships have been demonstrated for 212 of these. ``General degradation�� is addressed by 238 methods, mostly validated by relationships to combined pressure indices. Othermajor pressures have received significantly less effort: hydromorphological degradation is assessed by 160 methods and pressure-specific relationships have been demonstrated for just 40 of these. Hydromorphological pressures are addressed (at least by one BQE) only by 25\% countries for coastal waters and 70-80\% for lakes and transitional waters. Specific diagnostic tools (i.e. single-pressure relationships) for hydromorphology have only been developed by a fewcountries: only 20\% countries have suchmethods for lakes, coastal and transitional waters and less than half for rivers. Toxic contamination is addressed by 90 methods; however, pressure-specific relationships have been demonstrated for just eight of these. Only two countries have demonstrated pressure-specific acidification methods for rivers, and three for lakes. In summary, methods currently in use mostly address eutrophication and/or general degradation, but there is not much evidence that they reliably pick up the effects of other significant pressures such as hydromorphology or toxic contamination. Therefore, we recommend that countries re-examine: (1) those pressures which affect different water categories in the country; (2) relevant assessment methods to tackle those pressures; (3) whether pressure-response relationships have been developed for each of these. (C) 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Keywords: Bioassessment; Ecological status; Biological metrics; Aquatic ecosystems; Water framework directive; Anthropogenic pressures; FISH-BASED INDEX; MULTIMETRIC INDEX; COASTAL WATERS; FRAMEWORK; QUALITY; LAKES; ESTUARINE; IMPACT; INTERCALIBRATION; PHYTOPLANKTON
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: ELSEVIER
Type: Review
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140075
ISSN: 0048-9697
E-ISSN: 1879-1026
Appears in Publication types:Artículos científicos

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