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Comparative monitoring of diatoms, macroinvertebrates and macrophytes in the Woluwe River (Brussels, Belgium)
Triest, L.; Kaur, P.; Heylen, S.; De Pauw, N. (2001). Comparative monitoring of diatoms, macroinvertebrates and macrophytes in the Woluwe River (Brussels, Belgium). Aquat. Ecol. 35(2): 183-194
In: Aquatic Ecology. Springer: Dordrecht; London; Boston. ISSN 1386-2588, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

    Diatoms; Monitoring; River; Fresh water

Authors  Top 
  • Triest, L., more
  • Kaur, P.
  • Heylen, S., more
  • De Pauw, N., more

    The river Woluwe in Brussels and Flanders (Belgium) is a small tributary of 15 km length that drains an area of 9400 ha in the Schelde river basin. The headwaters of the Woluwe are highly fragmented by diverse pond systems and are vaulted in the Brussels agglomeration. Hyporheic zones locally influence the water quality. The downstream stretch of the river receives sewage waters from households and industry. As the river Woluwe within a short distance represents a typical gradient from groundwater-fed sources in the forest towards severely polluted water, a comparative monitoring using diatoms, macroinvertebrates and macrophytes was done. The saprobic index based on diatoms, the Belgian Biotic Index (BBI) for macroinvertebrates and a macrophyte index based on the N-values of Ellenberg were used in this comparison and for estimating the correlation with the bimonthly measured chemical variables in 16 sampling stations. The diatom saprobic index and the macrophyte index were strongly correlated. Both groups showed strong correlations with phosphate, ammonium and chemical oxygen demand. The Belgian Biotic Index showed lower correlations with the nutrient variables, but was slightly better correlated to chemical oxygen demand, chloride and dissolved oxygen. None of the indices showed a correlation with nitrate. Local substrate or light conditions could interfere with the indicator system, especially for the macrophytes and occasionally for the macroinvertebrates. It was concluded that at least in this particular river system, the indices based on the primary producers were more indicative for the trophic status, whereas the BBI showed a broader relationship to the general degree of pollution. Therefore, these three indices are considered as complementary for monitoring the biological quality and the ecological status of a river system.

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