Linking fish-based biological indicators with hydrological dynamics in a Mediterranean river: Relevance for environmental flow regimes
The relationship between flow dynamics and biological communities becomes especially relevant in Mediterranean rivers. Given their natural variability and growing anthropogenic pressures, their low sections are subjected to multiple impacts. The definition of ecohydrological relationships in Mediterranean rivers may constitute a useful management tool. Historically, fishes were the first group used to assess community-level ecological quality, and different indices and metrics have been proposed. However, up to date many of these indicators have showed to be insensitive to flow regime changes or hydrological alteration. There is therefore a need to deepen into the ecohydrological relationships between such indicators and flow regimes in Mediterranean (and other) rivers. This study presents an analysis of the relationship between interannual flow regimes in the lower section of the Ebro River, defined using a set of daily and hourly hydrological indices, and ecological quality based on fish community, assessed through indices designed to fulfill the Water Framework Directive (WFD) in Europe: the Indices of Biotic Integrity in Catalan rivers (IBICAT2010 and IBICAT2b) and the new European Fish Index (EFI+). In order to identify spatiotemporal patterns, hydrological indices were computed using time periods of different amplitude and ecological quality was obtained in different transects along the river section, even within the same water units or ‘water masses’ (subdivisions of surface waters to fulfill the WFD in Spain). Our results showed that IBICAT2010 was the most correlated with hydrological indices, followed by IBICAT2b and EFI+. The latter showed an almost null correlation with hydrological indices, which may be due to issues associated with the sampling technique, the definition of transects and because it does not uses stream typologies. Correlations among some hydrological and biological indices were observed, with temporal and spatial patterns. On one hand, daily hydrological indices showed relationship with ecological quality when they were computed using between 9 and 36 months of flow records (previous to the sampling date) whereas subdaily indices responded better to periods between 3 and 9 months of records. On the other hand, some sampling transects showed clearer relationships than others, even within the same water mass, which suggests an influence of hydromorphological variability on the obtained ecological quality scores.
574 - Ecologia general i biodiversitat
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Belmar, O., Vila-Martínez, N., Ibáñez, C., & Caiola, N. (2018). Linking fish-based biological indicators with hydrological dynamics in a Mediterranean river: Relevance for environmental flow regimes. Ecological Indicators, 95, 492-501. doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2018.06.073
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