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Pros and Cons of Biological Quality Element Phytoplankton as a Water-Quality Indicator in the NW Mediterranean Sea

AutorCamp, Jordi ; Flo Arcas, Eva ; Vila, Magda ; Arin, Laura ; Reñé, Albert ; Sampedro, Nagore ; Manzanera, Marta; Garcés, Esther
Fecha de publicación2016
CitaciónExperiences from Ground, Coastal and Transitional Water Quality Monitoring : The EU Water Framework Directive Implementation in the Catalan River Basin District (Part II): 135-160 (2015)
The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry 43: 135-160 (2015)
ResumenThe Water Framework Directive (WFD) mandates the use of biological quality element (BQE) phytoplankton to assess the ecological status of coastal and transitional water bodies (WB). Here, we present (i) a critique of the general ecological assumptions of the WFD, (ii) a review of the ecological features of coastal phytoplankton dynamics, (iii) several approaches to establish a methodology to assess water-quality along the Catalan coast (NW Mediterranean Sea) based on BQE phytoplankton, and (iv) a critical examination of the use of phytoplankton as a BQE. Since 2005, we have followed several approaches aimed at assessing water-quality based on BQE phytoplankton and linking this indicator to a proxy to a costal pressure index. We have therefore studied phytoplankton communities at three different levels: as potentially harmful species, as functional or taxonomic groups, and with respect to their bloom frequency. Despite intense efforts, none of these fulfilled the WFD’s management requirements, which in this context were found to contain several inherent flaws. As an alternative, we propose a methodology to assess water-quality based on the use of chlorophyll-a (Chl-a), as a proxy of phytoplankton biomass. The Chl-a concentration offers a very simple and representative measure of the phytoplankton community, and, importantly, it is used worldwide in water-quality studies, thus allowing not only regional but also cross-country comparisons. Moreover, because Chl-a concentrations clearly respond to nutrient enrichment, we were able to establish a BQE-specific typology for water bodies based on salinity, which is linked to nutrient loads. Using a newly developed coastal pressure index (Land Use Simplified Index, LUSI) that also reflects nutrient inputs, we demonstrated a significant pressure–impact relationship, as required by the WFD for management purposes. Based on this relationship, we were able to define reference conditions and water-quality boundaries for each type. We conclude our discussion with a consideration of the pros and cons of the use of phytoplankton as a BQE
Descripción26 pages
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/698_2015_392
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1007/698_2015_392
isbn: 978-3-319-23903-3
issn: 1867-979X
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