Design and implementation of rapid assessment approaches for water resource monitoring using benthic macroinvertebrates
Article first published online: 28 JUL 2006
Australian Journal of Ecology
Volume 20, Issue 1, pages 108–121, March 1995
How to Cite
RESH, V. H., NORRIS, R. H. and BARBOUR, M. T. (1995), Design and implementation of rapid assessment approaches for water resource monitoring using benthic macroinvertebrates. Australian Journal of Ecology, 20: 108–121. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9993.1995.tb00525.x
- Issue published online: 28 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 28 JUL 2006
- aquatic insects;
- experimental design;
- water quality
Abstract Benthic macroinvertebrates are the group of organisms most widely used for assessment of water resources. Rapid assessment approaches are intended to be efficient and cost effective; savings are found in reduced sampling and more efficient data analysis. Rapid bioassessment programmes have been quickly accepted and now cover most of the United States (US) and equivalent programmes cover all of the United Kingdom (UK). Rapid bioassessment programmes are designed to screen large regions, pinpointing trouble spots worthy of more detailed attention.
Fundamental to all rapid bioassessment methods is the classification of streams so that comparisons can be made between reference areas and areas of concern, or test sites with similar characteristics. Both the UK and US approaches assess habitat characteristics. These characteristics are used to predict the fauna expected at a test site in the UK approach; in the US they are used as an aid to classification and interpretation of aquatic faunal data. Habitat assessments in the US are also used to determine whether poor water quality or degraded habitat are stressing the invertebrate communities. This is a major development in approaches to water resource assessment.
In the UK, a model developed using multivariate statistics uses a few environmental variables thought to be unaffected by human activities to predict the fauna expected at a test site. The US approaches analyse data using several indices (or metrics) presumed to represent ecological features of interest. These indices have a range of sensitivities to different kinds of stress and must be calibrated for the area of interest. The two approaches have been developed in isolation but may have much to offer each other. Developing programmes are advised to consider both.
Future needs include: development of procedures that can be applied to large rivers and to lakes; further refinement of ecological principles underlying metric choice; the inclusion of chemical criteria and toxicity tests to establish thresholds that indicate impairment; and development of criteria indicating the necessity for implementation of quantitative assessment studies.