Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.08.007
Title (Primary) The ecological quality status of the Elbe estuary. A comparative approach on different benthic biotic indices applied to a highly modified estuary
Author Wetzel, M.A.; von der Ohe, P.C.; Manz, W.; Koop, J.H.E.; Wahrendorf, D.-S.
Source Titel Ecological Indicators
Year 2012
Department WANA
Volume 19
Page From 118
Page To 129
Language englisch
Keywords Sediment contamination; Water framework directive; Benthic indicators; W-statistic; BOPA; BO2A; AMBI; M-AMBI

Indices to assess the ecological status of water bodies according to the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) frequently produce widely differing results when applied to estuarine systems. Although several ecological indices have been employed to coastal environments and in estuaries in particular, there is still a lack of knowledge about their suitability for assessing the ecological status of heavily modified water bodies. Thus, we evaluated the performances of indices and fauna parameters (AMBI, M-AMBI, BOPA, BO2A, W-value, Shannon diversity, species richness, abundance) that have been discussed in the WFD context using data on invertebrates dwelling in two typical morphological units: the navigation channel and the river bank habitats of Elbe estuary (Germany). In addition, we tested their ability to identify several environmental factors (grain size distribution and chemical sediment contamination). All indices were able to detect major changes in macrofauna composition along the estuarine salinity gradient and were able to differentiate between navigation channel and shallow bank habitats. A strong significant correlation was found with most indices with the exceptions of the W-value and the BOPA with mean grain size. Almost all indices signaled poor ecological quality in the coarser fairway sediments against the finer sublitoral bank sediments. However, AMBI and BOPA showed the opposite: both indicators classified the invertebrate assemblages from the navigation channel better compare than the shallower habitats. The correlation of ecological indices and parameters with sediment contaminants and the toxicity of the sediment calculated as toxic units showed a diverse picture: all indices, except species richness and the BOPA, had a certain significant correlation with several individual sediment pollutants, however, only one index, the W-value, was correlated significant with the majority of chemical pollutants (Pb, Cd, Cu, Ni, Hg, Zn, β-HCH, pp′-DDD, and TBT) and the toxic units. Our results show clearly that ecological quality classification of heavily modified estuaries depends strongly on both the index and the habitat. Thus, we conclude that no index should be used on its own to estimate the ecological quality of estuaries. Further investigations and the improvement or development of such indices should place emphasis on their independence from the grain size spectrum of the sediments and on their good correlation with its pollution status.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Wetzel, M.A., von der Ohe, P.C., Manz, W., Koop, J.H.E., Wahrendorf, D.-S. (2012):
The ecological quality status of the Elbe estuary. A comparative approach on different benthic biotic indices applied to a highly modified estuary
Ecol. Indic. 19 , 118 - 129 10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.08.007