Development of a tool for assessing general anthropogenic pressure on lakes using littoral invertebrates
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) aims to assess ecological status for all surface waters in the EU and requires the achievement of at least good ecological and chemical status by 2015. In order to achieve good ecological status, the maximum degree of disturbance by hydromorphological,chemical and physicochemical elements may cause only slight deviation from the natural composition and abundance of a number of biological elements, including benthic fauna. As stated in Annex V of the WFD, the elements of hydromorphology supporting the biological elements comprise hydrological regime (quantity and dynamics of water flow; residence time; connection with groundwater) and morphological conditions (lake depth variation; quantity, structure and substrate of lake bed; structure of lake shore and its conditions). At present, the primary threats to the integrity of both Irish and European water bodies (natural and artificial) comprise excessive nutrient loading and hydromorphological pressures. Important uses of freshwater which may impact on the hydromorphology of water bodies and lead to changes in water levels (WL) include activities such as drinking water supply, storage for hydropower generation, industrial processing or irrigation; navigation; recreation and construction of dams, dikes or embankments for flood protection or erosion control. In order to achieve the environmental objectives set by the WFD, we need to find ways to measure and assess disturbances by hydromorphological pressures. Remarkably little is known, however, of the impacts of amplified water level fluctuations on lake ecosystems. In lakes, these pressures are likely to be manifested most strongly in the littoral zone.
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Environmental Protection Agency 2008-FS-W-7-S5
Keywords: Lakes; Anthropogenic pressure; Littoral invertebrates; Hydromorphology