Aquatic biomonitoring is the science of inferring the ecological condition of rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands by examining the organisms that live there. While aquatic biomonitoring is the most common form of such biomonitoring, any ecosystem can be studied in this manner.
Biomonitoring typically takes two approaches:
- Bioassays, where test organisms are exposed to an environment to see if mutations or deaths occur. Typical organisms used in bioassays are fish, water fleas (Daphnia), and frogs.
- Community assessments, also called biosurveys, where an entire community of organisms is sampled, to see what types of taxa remain. In aquatic ecosystems, these assessments often focus on invertebrates, algae, macrophytes (aquatic plants), fish, or amphibians. Rarely, other large vertebrates (reptiles, birds, and mammals) are considered as well.
Aquatic invertebrates have the longest history of use in biomonitoring programs. In typical unpolluted temperate streams of Europe and North America, certain insect taxa predominate. Mayflies (Ephemeroptera), caddisflies (Trichoptera), and stoneflies (Plecoptera) are the most common insects in these undisturbed streams. In rivers disturbed by urbanization, agriculture, forestry, and other perturbations, flies (Diptera), and especially midges (family Chironomidae) predominate. Aquatic invertebrates are responsive to climate change.
- Biological integrity
- Indicator species
- Water pollution
- Biological monitoring working party
- Karr, James R. (1981). "Assessment of biotic integrity using fish communities." Fisheries 6:21–27.
- Barbour, M.T., J. Gerritsen, B.D. Snyder, and J.B. Stribling. 1999. "Rapid Bioassessment Protocols for Use in Streams and Wadeable Rivers: Periphyton, Benthic Macroinvertebrates and Fish, Second Edition." EPA 841-B-99-002. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Office of Water; Washington, D.C.
- Lawrence, J.E., K.B. Lunde, R.D. Mazor, L.A. Bêche, E.P. McElravy, and V.H. Resh. 2010. "Long-Term Macroinvertebrate Responses to Climate Change: Implications for Biological Assessment in Mediterranean-Climate Streams." Journal of the North American Benthological Society 29: 1424-1440.
- Filipe, A.F.; J.E. Lawrence, N. Bonada (November 2013). "Vulnerability of Biota in Mediterranean Streams to Climate Change: A Synthesis of Ecological Responses and Conservation Challenges". Hydrobiologia 719: 331–251. doi:10.1007/s10750-012-1244-4. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- Rosenberg, D.M. and V.H. Resh (eds.) 1993. "Freshwater biomonitoring and benthic macroinvertebrates." Chapman and Hall, New York. 488 p.
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