Original paper

Biomonitoring through biological traits of benthic macroinvertebrates: perspectives for a general tool in stream management

Charvet, Stéphane; Kosmala, Anne; Statzner, Bernhard

Archiv für Hydrobiologie Volume 142 Number 4 (1998), p. 415 - 432

41 references

published: Jul 30, 1998

DOI: 10.1127/archiv-hydrobiol/142/1998/415

BibTeX file

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Although benthic stream macroinvertebrates have been widely used in biomonitoring, further developments towards more general biomonitoring tools are timely. Therefore, we compared traditional ways of biomonitoring such as diversity, biotic indices and community structure with a new approach using biological traits such as reproduction, life duration, and feeding habits. These approaches were applied to a typical biomonitoring scenario, i.e. for two sites being upstream and downstream of the effluent from a waste water treatment plant. Physico-chemical variables did not discriminate between upstream and downstream site. Among eight tested biological indices, only Margalef's and Shannon's index and the French Biotic Index "indice biologique global normalisé" (IBGN) significantly separated the upstream from the downstream site. However, biomonitoring through these three indices depended significantly on the sampling effort, which was not the case for the community structure or biological traits. Community structure in terms of taxa abundances separated the upstream from the downstream site (17.9 % of discrimination). Biological traits weighted by taxa abundances better separated the upstream from the downstream site (23.1 % of discrimination). The biological traits showed that the functional structure at the upstream site was characteristic for organisms using the strategy of resilience in more variable but less adverse environments. In contrast, the functional structure observed at the downstream site was characteristic for organisms using the strategy of resistance in less variable but more adverse environments. Thus, the functional approach to indicate pollution effects in streams through biological traits may provide a tool for future stream management which is robust, general and based on current concepts of ecological theory.


biomonitoringbiotic indicespollutionenvironmentsphysico-chemical variablesMargalef's and Shannon's index