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Water Res. 2003 Jul;37(12):2969-79.

Long-term trends in water quality and their impact on macroinvertebrate assemblages in eutrophic lowland rivers.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex, CO4 3SQ, UK.


Long-term trends in water quality in eutrophic lowland rivers in eastern England were investigated and their impact on macroinvertebrate assemblages studied. Dissolved oxygen (DO) declined significantly in eight rivers in Essex and Suffolk over 40 years to 1998. Chloride concentrations significantly increased during the same period in most rivers. Total oxidized nitrogen and soluble reactive phosphorus increased until the 1980s, then began to decline. Biotic scores (Lincoln Quality Index) generally increased over 14 years to 1998 and there were significant positive relationships between biotic scores and several nutrients. Invertebrate families and environmental variables sampled over the eight rivers in a dry year (1997) and a wet year (1998) were subjected to multivariate analysis. River stretches were grouped according to substrate requirements of indicator invertebrates. In the dry year, those river stretches behind mills or immediately downstream of sewage treatment works (STW) were grouped. In the wet year, there was only one separate group, comprising sites downstream of STWs. Nutrients, DO and low flows have a much greater influence on water quality, and hence invertebrate assemblages, during drought years than during wet years.

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