Measurements of uncertainty in macrophyte metrics used to assess European lake water quality

Document identifier:
Access full text here:10.1007/s10750-012-1338-z
Keyword: Natural Sciences, Biological Sciences, Ecology, Naturvetenskap, Biologiska vetenskaper, Ekologi, Landskapsekologi, Landscape Ecology
Publication year: 2013
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 14 Life below waterSDG 6 Clean water and sanitation
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Uncertainty is an important factor in ecological assessment, and has important implications for the ecological classification and management of lakes. However, our knowledge of the effects of uncertainty in the assessment of different ecological indicators is limited. Here, we used data from a standardized campaign of aquatic plant surveys, in 28 lakes from 10 European countries, to assess variation in macrophyte metrics across a set of nested spatial scales: countries, lakes, sampling stations, replicate transects, and replicate samples at two depth-zones. Metrics investigated in each transect included taxa richness, maximum depth of colonisation and two indicators of trophic status: Ellenberg’s N and a metric based on phosphorus trophic status. Metrics were found to have a slightly stronger relationship to pressures when they were calculated on abundance data compared to presence/absence data. Eutrophication metrics based on helophytes were found not to be useful in assessing the effects of nutrient pressure. These metrics were also found to vary with the depth of sampling, with shallower taxa representing higher trophic status. This study demonstrates the complex spatial variability in macrophyte communities, the effect of this variability on the metrics, and theimplications to water managers, especially in relation to survey design.


Bernard J. Dudley

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik
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Michael Dunbar

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxon
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Ellis Penning

Deltares, Delft
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Agnieszka Kolada

Institute of Environmental Protection - National Research Institute, Warsaw
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Seppo K. Hellsten

Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), University of Oulu
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Alessandro Oggioni

Institute for Electromagnetic Sensing of the Environment CNR - IREA, Via Bassini
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Vincent Bertin

Irstea, UR REBX, 50 Avenue de Verdun
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Frauke Ecke

Luleå tekniska universitet; Geovetenskap och miljöteknik
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Martin Søndergaard

Institute of Bioscience, Aarhus University
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