• Australia;
  • biological assessment;
  • water quality

Abstract Biological assessment of water quality in Australia is entering a stage of rapid development largely because of the inclusion of biological indicators in water quality guidelines and growing concern for ecological values. Approaches to water quality assessment include toxicity testing, use of biomarkers and several methods using community structure. For assessment diverse organisms such as fish, algae and (the most commonly used) macro-invertebrates are used. Interaction of data analysis with methods of data collection requires co-ordinated research on both fronts. Recent developments in the use of multivariate statistics to produce models for predicting water quality are likely to be useful in Australia. Much innovative work is still needed in Australia on the use of algae and fish, defining tolerance categories and establishing monitoring programmes performed in time-frames equivalent to those in use for physical and chemical methods.