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The development of benthic quality indices for European lakes is hindered by the lack of information concerning many national lake types and pressures. Most information is from north European lakes stressed by acidification and from deep lakes subjected to eutrophication; for other lake types (the ones included in the Mediterranean areas for example) and for other pressures (hydro-morphological alteration, toxic stress) there is practically no information about the response of benthic macro-invertebrates; this hinders the possibility of an intercalibration of the indices among the member states (MS) in the EU. In the present communication three benthic quality indices are proposed considering the littoral, sublittoral and profundal zone in 5 reference and 7 non reference lakes from the Alpine region in response to eutrophication. The sensitivity values of the 177 species found in these lakes were calculated taking a weighted average of the values of environmental variables from lakes in which the species were present. The indicator taxa which prevailed in these lakes were Chironomids and Oligochaetes. A coinertia analysis emphasized the importance of trophic variables (transparency, nitrates, total phosphorous) in explaining the species distribution, but geographic (altitude) and morphometric (depth, volume) variables were also important. The indices enabeled a separation of reference from non-reference lakes and to assign the non-reference lakes to different quality classes in agreement with the Water Framework Directive.
Published online: 17 October 2012.
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