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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2006

A comparison of the European Water Framework Directive physical typology and RIVPACS-type models as alternative methods of establishing reference conditions for benthic macroinvertebrates

Davy-Bowker J, Clarke RT, Johnson RK, Kokes J, Murphy JF, Zahradkova S


The EU Water Framework Directive requires European Union Member States to establish 'type-specific biological reference conditions' for streams and rivers. Types can be defined by using either a fixed typology (System-A), defined by ecoregions and categories of altitude, catchment area and geology, or by means of an alternative characterisation (System-B) that can use a variety of physical and chemical factors. Several European countries also have existing RIVPACS-type models that give site (rather than stream type) specific predictions of benthic macroinvertebrate communities. In this paper we compare the Water Framework Directive (WFD) System-A physical typology and three existing European multivariate RIVPACS-type models as alternative methods of establishing reference conditions. This work is carried out in Great Britain - using RIVPACS, Sweden - using SWEPAC(SRI) and the Czech Republic - using PERLA. We found that in all three countries, all seasons and season combinations, and for all biotic indices tested, RIVPACS-type models were more effective (lower standard deviations of O/E ratios) than models based solely on the WFD System-A variables or null models (based on a single expectation for all sites). We also investigated the explanatory power of whole groups of WFD System-A variables and RIVPACS-type model variables, and the explanatory power of individual variables. We found that variables used in the RIVPACS-type models were often better correlates of macroinvertebrate community variation than the WFD System-A variables. We conclude that this is primarily because while the latter use very broad categories of map-derived variables, the former are based on continuous variables selected for their ecological significance

Published in

2006, Volume: 566, pages: 91-105
Publisher: SPRINGER

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Fish and Aquacultural Science

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