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Research article2009Peer reviewed

A comparison of national approaches to setting ecological status boundaries in phytobenthos assessment for the European Water Framework Directive: results of an intercalibration exercise

Kelly, Martyn; Bennett, Cathy; Coste, Michel; Delgado, Cristina; Delmas, Francois; Denys, Luc; Ector, Luc; Fauville, Claude; Ferreol, Martial; Golub, Malgorzata; Jarlman, Amelie; Kahlert, Maria; Lucey, John; Ni Chathain, Bernadette; Pardo, Isabel; Pfister, Peter; Picinska-Faltynowicz, Joanna; Rosebery, Juliette; Schranz, Christine; Schaumburg, Jochen;
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The European Union (EU)'s Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires that all Member States participate in intercalibration exercises in order to ensure that ecological status concepts and assessment levels are consistent across the EU. This paper describes one such exercise, performed by the countries in the Central/Baltic Geographical Intercalibration Group stretching from Ireland in the west to Estonia in the east and from the southern parts of Scandinavia to the northern regions of Spain and Italy (but excluding alpine regions, which were intercalibrated separately). In this exercise, methods used to measure ecological status of rivers using benthic diatoms were compared. Ecological status is estimated as the ratio between the observed value of a biological element and the value expected in the absence of significant human impact. Approaches to defining the 'reference sites', from which these 'expected' values were derived, varied from country to country. Minimum criteria were established as part of the exercise but there was still considerable variation between national reference values, reflecting typological differences that could not be resolved during the exercise. A simple multimetric index was developed to compare boundary values using two widely used diatom metrics. Boundary values for high/good status and good/moderate status set by each participant were converted to their equivalent values of this intercalibration metric using linear regression. Variation of +/- 0.05 EQR units around the median value was considered to be acceptable and the exercise provided a means for those Member States who fell significantly above or below this line to review their approaches and, if necessary, adjust their boundaries.


Diatoms; Algae; Monitoring; Intercalibration; Eutrophication; Pollution

Published in

2009, Volume: 621, number: 1, pages: 169-182
Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
    Fish and Aquacultural Science

    Publication identifier


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