Direct comparison of assessment methods using benthic macroinvertebrates: a contribution to the EU Water Framework Directive intercalibration exercise
The aim of the intercalibration exercise presently performed by the EU is to identify and resolve significant inconsistencies between the ecological quality classifications of EU Member States and the normative definitions of the EU Water Framework Directive. Based on benthic macroinvertebrate data of two European stream types (small siliceous mountain streams and medium-sized lowland streams in Central and Western Europe) we correlated the indices of 10 river quality assessment methods (ASPT, BMWP, DSFI, German Multimetric Index, Saprobic Indices) applied in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Slovak Republic, Sweden and United Kingdom. National class boundaries were compared via regression analysis. Assessment methods of the same type (Saprobic Indices, BMWP/ASPT scores) showed best correlation results (R-2 > 0.7). The good quality status boundaries of the national methods deviated up to 25%; thus indicating the necessity to harmonize the national classification schemes. Prerequisites of the presented intercalibration approach are (1) a sufficiently large and consistent dataset representative of the respective common intercalibration types and (2) agreement on common type specific reference conditions.
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