Original paper

The importance of spatial variation of benthic invertebrates for the ecological assessment of European lakes

Solimini, Angelo G.; Sandin, Leonard


Lake assessment systems based on benthic macroinvertebrates critically depend on the amount of spatial variation of organisms within and between lakes. Investigators need to distinguish between community changes that are related to human pressures and those that are caused by inherent natural variability. However, littoral and profundal invertebrate communities are constrained by different drivers of change and may respond unevenly to distinct human disturbances. How human disturbances determined by different pressures interact in modifying the distribution of benthic invertebrate species at multiple spatial scales needs to be assessed and efficiently quantified, in order to set up reliable assessment tools of ecological status. Driven by the research activity carried out within the European project Wiser (Water bodies in Europe: Integrative Systems to assess Ecological status and Recovery, funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme), we collated several case studies with the aim to increase our understanding of basic sources of spatial variation of invertebrate assemblages. The set of papers includes a variety of different European lakes, habitat types and human pressures from the Nordic, Central, Atlantic, Alpine and Mediterranean regions. All papers have an obvious applied objective and suggest which factors need to be considered when designing invertebrate-based classification tools.


lakebenthic invertebrateswater framework directivelittoral habitathydromorphologyeutrophicationwiser project