INHABIT project

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Rivers – System responses to anthropic alterations

To prevent the deterioration of ecological status in surface water bodies, protecting and improving them, has always been considered a central theme in European environmental policy. The evaluation of pollution and the resulting effects on ecosystems are not new in the European scenario. Since the 70ies we have dealt in various ways with the development of assessment  systems able to detect the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on aquatic ecosystems and specific policy proposals have been issued since then to improve the status of water bodies.
In this context, the issue of Directive 2000/60/EC - WFD has set new approaches for the assessment of ecological status, also establishing the centrality of the Biological Quality Elements for this purpose. The WFD has also recognized the importance of habitat and hydromorphological elements in the interpretation of the processes structuring biological communities.
To meet WFD requirements it is therefore first necessary to obtain elements allowing the assessment of ecological status, in order to set up management plans and dedicated measures.
In Italy, the transposition of the WFD has determined, the adoption of STAR_ICMi for the assessment of macrobenthic component in rivers. STAR_ICMi is a multimetric index, developed in the European context and suitable to assess general degradation. Being STAR_ICMi formed by 6 different metrics, the assessment of individual metrics can provide an indication of the different pressures acting on a given water body. Effects of specific pressures and specific measures, can then be quantified in relation to the individual metrics forming STAR_ICMi. Each of them may have different sensitivity to various forms of impact, as put in evidence by INHABIT project. In addition, INHABIT activities led to the selection of additional metrics, specifically dedicated to highlight specific impacts or environmental factors, through these additional metrics it will be possible to assess the effectiveness of restoration measures. They are suited, as well, to be used in surveillance and investigation monitoring and, in any case, to provide better understandings within the general framework of operational monitoring.

In Sardinia, and more in general in Mediterranean area, adequate metrics for the evaluation of overall alterations are: STAR_ICMi, ASPT, EPT, Shannon diversity, LEPab (Leptophlebidae Abundance), DIPab (Diptera abundance), SelTRI_GN (Abundance of  Odontoceridae, Limnephilidae, Polycentropodidae); for the evaluation of habitat alterations: log(SelEPTD), DIPB (Ab. of Ceratopogonidae, Culicidae e Syrphidae), % shredders, MTS (in riffle), 1-GOLD and Ab. of Dugesia e Lymnaea; for the evaluation of water quality: SelOLIGHI_SA (Ab. of Naididae, Tubificidae and Chironomidae), MTS (in pool), TRIab (Ab. Trichopera), SelTri_SA (Abundance Leptoceridae, Rhyacophilidae, Glossosomatidae), Leuctra&Calopteryx, SelEpheGN (Abundance of Procloeon, Centroptilum, Ecdyonurus); lastly for the evaluation of effect of water abstraction (lentic-lotic character), in addition to what previously mentioned: nOCH (Odonati, Coelotteri and Eterotteri), Baetis/BAETIDAE, SelEpheM (Abundance of B. cfr. rhodani, Ecdyonurus, Habrophlebia).
Other information related to this activity is presented in Deliverable D1d5_EN.