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Comparison of two indices based on macrophyte assemblages to assess the ecological status of coastal waters in the transition between the Atlantic and Mediterranean eco-regions

January 9, 2014

Several indices based on the composition and abundance of aquatic flora have been developed to assess the ecological status of coastal waters along the European coasts in the context of the Water Framework Directive. This directive pointed out the intercalibration of indices based on the same biological element within an eco-region to ensure the consistency and comparability among them. For a better management of coastal areas in the transition zone between two eco-regions, the comparison of indices developed for each eco-region may also be necessary. The aim of this work was to compare two indices based on macrophytes that have been proposed for two different and adjoining eco-regions: the RSL (Reduced Species List) in the Atlantic eco-region and the CARLIT (Cartography of littoral and upper sublittoral communities) in the Mediterranean. These indices were applied in 14 sites in the transition between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, where a wide range of anthropogenic pressures can be found, from high (Algeciras Bay) to almost negligible (“El Estrecho” Natural Park). Overall, both indices were sensitive to anthropogenic pressures and suitable to assess the ecological status. The comparison between indices suggested a bias in the assessment of the ecological status between good and high classes due to a different definition of high ecological status class between RSL and CARLIT. In addition, the most important disagreements between indices were found in the most degraded localities. The results showed, however, a high comparability between RSL and CARLIT despite their marked conceptual and methodological differences.

 

Bermejo R, Mangialajo L, Vergara J J, Hernández I, in press. Comparison of two indices based on macrophyte assemblages to assess the ecological status of coastal waters in the transition between the Atlantic and Mediterranean eco-regions, Journal of Applied Phycology, 2013, doi:10.1007/s10811-013-0226-x. Article.

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