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Mar Pollut Bull. 2008 Nov;56(11):1880-9. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2008.07.016. Epub 2008 Sep 13.

Is it possible to assess the ecological status of highly stressed natural estuarine environments using macroinvertebrates indices?

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Environmental Hydraulic Institute, University of Cantabria, Avda. Los Castros s/n, Santander, Cantabria, Spain.


Several biotic indices have been proposed for the assessment of the ecological status of benthic macroinvertebrates in marine waters, although none have been generally accepted. When it comes to assessing highly stressed natural environments, such as estuaries, the controversy and uncertainty is much higher than for any given normal index. In this article, we test the behavior and suitability of different biotic indices proposed under the perspective of the Water Framework Directive (S, H, AMBI, M-AMBI, BQI, W-statistic, Taxonomic distinctness) for the assessment of estuaries in northern Spain. The low species richness and dominance of a few tolerant species in the characteristic community of these estuaries presented a challenge to the application of the biotic indices tested. Combined approaches that integrate different aspects of water quality and ecosystem functionality could increase the reliability of the ecological assessment of these transitional waters.

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