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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, John; Clarke, Ralph T.; Johnson, R. K.; Kokes, J.; Murphy, John F.; Zahradkova, S.. 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. Hydrobiologia, 566. 91-105. 10.1007/s10750-006-0068-5

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Abstract/Summary

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 SWEPACSRI 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.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1007/s10750-006-0068-5
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Water
CEH Sections: _ River Ecology
ISSN: 0018-8158
Format Availability: Electronic, Print
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Additional Keywords: reference condition, physical typology, RIVPACS, SWEPACSRI, PERLA
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Hydrology
Date made live: 15 Jun 2007 10:23
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/292

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