Demonstration actions on classification and uncertainty (D1)

INHABIT project

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Home Themes & Results Classification and uncertainty (D1)

Demonstration actions on classification and uncertainty (D1)

As required by the WFD, the status of water bodies was classified in time to enable a presentation of the results of the monitoring programmes in map form for the status of surface water in the RBMPs. An estimate of the level of confidence and precision of the results provided by the monitoring programmes must also be given in the plan. However, biological quality elements are affected by temporal variability related to climatic and meteorological factors, which on turn determine local hydro-morphological conditions and thus affect spatial distribution of habitats. Also, they undergo the characteristic cycles of natural populations, sometimes introducing a quite high degree of variability across years or seasons. In particular, interannual and seasonal unpredictability is a key ecological factor in mediterranean ecosystem, as it is the amount (and consequently the quality) of available water itself to undergo a strong variability. Effects on habitat conditions similar to those related to natural flow variability can be due to water use and management, also finally resulting on a potentially strong modification of instream or lake hydro-morphological conditions. Natural and/or man-induced variability can therefore jointly affect both sites in reference conditions and degraded ones, which need to be classified, so that its effects on water body classification is difficult to foresee. The need for an estimation of uncertainty linked to biological monitoring and subsequent classification of ecological status is not only a legal requirement of the WFD, but it is an important factor to consider for planning the number of sites, the frequency of monitoring and the overall number of samples to be collected. As well, this aspect is crucial to prioritise restoration actions i.e. programmes of measures, within RBMPs.
In this action group, firstly we will apply in the study areas the most up to date methods for classification available for Italian aquatic ecosystems. Subsequently, we will define a common set of key statistical metrics based on both scientific literature and WFD text and guidance, comparing the results of different techniques for uncertainty estimation and evaluating the influence of classification uncertainty on RBMPs and Programmes of Measures. A classification according to the most up to date WFD classification tools of all sites i.e. water bodies present in the study areas will be attempted, if data are made available by competent Authorities. This would include water bodies not being directly investigated in the field during the project.

Methods employed
Data gained during group of actions I1 will be used to classify sites in the study catchments, as far as biological classification is concerned. Together with indications from CEN standards, the Italian guidelines for hydromorphological classification will be adopted. Such guidelines are presently in a draft formulation, but it is expected that by the end of 2009 they will be available for application. These guidelines, in addition to habitat aspects well covered by the CARAVAGGIO method, indicate – for selected river types - geomorphological approaches to assess the processes acting in rivers. Such approaches, possibly including large scale analysis, will be adopted, if relevant, in the study areas. When data availability from standard monitoring programmes will make this possible, a full ecological status classification will be performed e.g. all BQEs, chemical classification and hydro-morphological aspects. Classification tools will be those most recently defined for WFD implementation according to Italian and European guidelines and protocols, as defined within recent EC co-funded projects and further refined on the national level. Furthermore, for lakes analysis will be based on data from intensive monitoring of selected key sites with a high temporal and spatial resolution and, for both lakes and rivers, on the collation of existing monitoring data. Different numerical techniques for uncertainty estimation will be evaluated to identify metrics suitable to be implemented in RBMPs and Programmes of Measures. When data availability from the study areas will support this, reference conditions evaluated through empirical modelling will be compared with type-specific reference values, taking into account their prediction error. The results will be then included in guidelines for a possible revision of RBMPs.
Reports prepared by individual partners to be merged and integrated by the responsible beneficiary will be submitted two months before the deadline for the presentation of the relevant project Deliverable.

Obtained results

  • Rivers – Sites classification in studied areas
    INHABIT activity group D1 aims at demonstrating the effectiveness of classification performed on studied water bodies, in particular highlighting aspects related to uncertainty in classification. Such activities will develop one of the key aspects of the project related to the understanding of main factors influencing ecological status.
  • Rivers – Summary conclusions on demonstration actions for RBMPs implementation
    Together with the key points of the final phase of D1 group of actions, this section presents a set of summary tables related to main issues addressed in the project and obtained results. Aim of D1 group of actions was – together with the classification of investigated water bodies – to identify factors (i.e. metric and habitat features) representing key aspects in structuring River Basin Management plans.
  • Lakes – results D1
    Methods for the evaluation of lake reference conditions were evaluated to assess natural variability and uncertainty in classification. In particular, we focused on quality elements for which it is possible to model reference conditions (phytoplankton), and those most sensitive to natural variability, either weather and climate conditions, (phytoplankton and macrophytes), trophic conditions (macrobentos) and or different lake types (fish fauna).

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