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Research article2012Peer reviewed

Identification versus counting protocols as sources of uncertainty in diatom-based ecological status assessments

Kahlert, Maria; Kelly, Martyn G.; Albert, Raino-Lars; Almeida, Salomé F.P.; Besta, Tomas; Blanco, Saul; Coste, Michel; Denys, Luc; Ector, Luc; Frankova, Marketa; Hlubikova, Dasa; Ivanov, Plamen; Kennedy, Bryan; Marvan, Petr; Mertens, Adrienne; Miettinen, Juha; Picinska-Faltynowicz, Joanna; Rosebery, Juliette; Tornes, Elisabet; Vilbaste, Sirje;
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In 2009, seventeen analysts participated in a pan-European diatom ring-test (intercalibration), analyzing nine samples from seven countries following the European standard EN 14407. The objective of this exercise was to agree on practical conventions on diatom identification to facilitate future intercalibration work and to assess the extent to which national differences in sample analysis (counting protocol and identification conventions) contribute to variability in EU-level comparisons of diatom-based methods. Differences in the reported taxa lists were large, but not a major source of variation in values of a common metric (the phytobenthos Intercalibration Common Metric, ICM). Therefore, every country can apply its own identification conventions for national assessments, and still be fairly confident that the ICM reflects the national classification of its streams. Part of the index variation was due to differences in counting protocols and care should be taken when handling broken valves, girdle views and small taxa. More work at both national and European level is needed to provide a harmonized way of using diatoms for ecological status assessments in the future.


Algae; Monitoring; Phytobenthos; Rivers; Intercalibration; Water Framework Directive

Published in

2012, Volume: 695, number: 1, pages: 109-124
Publisher: SPRINGER

    Associated SLU-program

    Lakes and watercourses
    Agricultural landscape

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Management
    Environmental Sciences

    Publication identifier


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