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A review of river habitat characterisation methods: Indices vs.characterisation protocols

Abstract: A wide variety of methodologies have been proposed for characterising river habitats in order to meet different environmental objectives. However, mid- to long-term monitoring of the physical characteristics of river habitats lacks a standardised methodology. This contrasts with well-established methods for monitoring other river ecosystem components. Some attempts have been made to standardise the methods for characterising river habitats including the European Guidance Standard for Assessing the Hydromorphological Characteristics of Rivers (CEN, 2002) and the Physical and Chemical Assessment Module within the Australian River Assessment System (AusRivAS). One of the first steps toward advancing the development and use of methods for characterising river habitats in mid- to long-term monitoring programs is to review current practices so that deficiencies can be identified and addressed. In the present work, we review more than 50 methods that have been used lo characterise river habitats worldwide. This review uses the European standard as a reference benchmark for comparison with existing methods of river habitat characterisation. Methods of characterising river habitats differ mainly with respect to three features: (1) the objectives for which they were designed, (2) the time required for their application and (3) whether they measure characteristics or evaluate them. Channel and riparian zone characteristics are more extensively covered than floodplain characteristics. Moreover, of all the described river habitat characteristics, bank stability, channel substrate, artificial structures, riparian vegetation structure, channel dimensions, f10w types or f10w status, adjacent land uses and bars are the most commonly recorded. We conclude that assessment methods of river habitat characteristics that gather quantitative information at a range of spatial scales could be the most effective, as they provide relatively extensive data sets that can be used to analyse information for several purposes. Finally, some types of rivers, such as intermittent rivers, require further work in order to identify their physical habitat characteristics and the proper monitoring methodology.

 Autoría: Fernández D., Barquín J., Raven P.J.,

 Fuente: Limnetica 2011, 30(2), 217-234

Editorial: Asociación Ibérica de Limnología

 Año de publicación: 2011

Nº de páginas: 18

Tipo de publicación: Artículo de Revista

 DOI: 10.23818/limn.30.17

ISSN: 0213-8409,1989-1806

Proyecto español: MARCE (Ref: CTM-2009-07447)