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River Ecological Quality


Traditionally, methods to evaluate the Ecological Quality of hydric resources relied on Physic-Chemical parameters sampling and quantification to detect contaminants and other modifications on the aquatic environment. Although this approach it’s still essential, the resulting information presents some limitations. Firstly, because sampling results greatly depend on the timing of contaminant release and other factors (such has meteorology). Continues sampling its usually not economically feasible, and the risk of not detecting contaminants which the sample is not tested for still remains. Additionally, for the same contaminant concentration, communities, dependent on several factors, may respond in different  ways (can either over or under react). Therefore, using this parameter alone may over or under evaluate the quality of hydric resources.

 On the other hand, resident living organisms at these habitats permanently witness natural fluctuations and anthropogenic pressures on the ecosystems. More recently, methods for the Ecological Assessment of Hydric Resources have emerged based on the Community structure (species populations, type, and proportion) and Bioindicators (e.g., the presence of plants and animals which colonize disturbed habitats or those which can only survive in pristine ecosystems).

Methods to perform this ecological evaluation are currently relatively fast and cost-effective for the information they can provide to the interested stakeholders, either regulators or project promoters.

The Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October) determines the classification of the ecological state of hydric resources through several quality elements. In this context, several official protocols emerged to perform this evaluation (1) to be executed by specialized workforce.

The Directive includes fish communities and others components of aquatic ecosystems, such as benthic microinvertebrates, aquatic plants and morphological criteria which can conclude on the physical structure of river basins and estuaries.

 In this context Sinergiae Ambiente provides expertise on the following services:

  • Physical-Chemical Monitoring
  • Ichthyofauna (Fish) Communities Monitoring;
  • Benthic Microinvertebrate Monitoring;
  • Ecological Quality of Riverbank Vegetation Monitoring;
  • Evaluation of the Ecological Quality of Water under the Water Framework Directive;

1 In Portugal “Manual para a Avaliação Biológica da Qualidade da Água em Sistemas Fluviais segundo a Directiva Quadro da Água” (INAG): fitoplâncton, fitobentos-diatomáceas; macroinvertebrados bentónicos; macrófitos, fauna piscícola (ictiofauna), River Habitat Survey.