A zone-specific fish-based biotic index as a management tool for the Zeeschelde estuary (Belgium)
Breine, J.; Quataert, P.; Stevens, M.; Ollevier, F.; Volckaert, F.A.M.; Van den Bergh, E.; Maes, J. (2010). A zone-specific fish-based biotic index as a management tool for the Zeeschelde estuary (Belgium). Mar. Pollut. Bull. 60(7): 1099-1112. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2010.01.014
Fish-based indices monitor changes in surface waters and are a valuable aid in communication by summarising complex information about the environment (Harrison and Whitfield, 2004). A zone-specific fish-based multimetric estuarine index of biotic integrity (Z-EBI) was developed based on a 13year time series of fish surveys from the Zeeschelde estuary (Belgium). Sites were pre-classified using indicators of anthropogenic impact. Metrics showing a monotone response with pressure classes were selected for further analysis. Thresholds for the good ecological potential (GEP) were defined from references. A modified trisection was applied for the other thresholds. The Z-EBI is defined by the average of the metric scores calculated over a one year period and translated into an ecological quality ratio (EQR). The indices integrate structural and functional qualities of the estuarine fish communities. The Z-EBI performances were successfully validated for habitat degradation in the various habitat zones.
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