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Modelling macroinvertebrate and fish biotic indices: From reaches to entire river networks

Abstract: We modelled three macroinvertebrate (IASPT, EPT number of families and LIFE) and one fish (percentage of salmonid biomass) biotic indices to river networks draining a large region (110,000 km2) placed in Northern and Eastern Spain. Models were developed using Random Forest and 26 predictor variables (19 predictors to model macroinvertebrate indices and 22 predictors to model the fish index). Predictor variables were related with different environmental characteristics (water quality, physical habitat characteristics, hydrology, topography, geology and human pressures). The importance and effect of predictors on the 4 biotic indices was evaluated with the IncNodePurity index and partial dependence plots, respectively. Results indicated that the spatial variability of macroinvertebrate and fish indices were mostly dependent on the same environmental variables. They decreased in river reaches affected by high mean annual nitrate concentration (> 4 mg/l) and temperature (> 12 °C), with low flow water velocity (< 0.4 m/s) and aquatic plant communities being dominated by macrophytes. These indices were higher in the Atlantic region than in the Mediterranean. This study provides a continuous image of river biological communities used as indicators, which turns very useful to identify the main sources of change in the ecological status of water bodies and assist both, the integrated catchment management and the identification of river reaches for recovery.

 Fuente: Science of The Total Environment Volume 577, 15 January 2017, Pages 308-318

 Editorial: Elsevier

 Fecha de publicación: 01/01/2017

 Tipo de publicación: Artículo de Revista

 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.10.186

 ISSN: 0048-9697,1879-1026

 Proyecto español: RIVERLANDS (Ref. BIA2012-33572) ; HYDRA (Ref. BIA2015-71197)

 Url de la publicación: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.10.186