A comparison of rapid bioassessment protocols used in 2 regions with Mediterranean climates, the Iberian Peninsula and South Africa
Journal of The North American Benthological Society
The ability of 2 Rapid Bioassessment Protocols (RBPs) to assess stream water quality was compared in 2 Mediterranean-climate regions. The most commonly used RBPs in South Africa (SAprotocol) and the Iberian Peninsula (IB-protocol) are both multihabitat, field-based methods that use macroinvertebrates. Both methods use preassigned sensitivity weightings to calculate metrics and biotic indices. The SA-and IB-protocols differ with respect to sampling equipment (mesh size: 1000 lm vs 250-300 lm,
... pectively), segregation of habitats (substrate vs flow-type), and sampling and sorting procedures (variable time and intensity). Sampling was undertaken at 6 sites in South Africa and 5 sites in the Iberian Peninsula. Forty-four and 51 macroinvertebrate families were recorded in South Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, respectively; 77.3% of South African families and 74.5% of Iberian Peninsula families were found using both protocols. Estimates of community similarity compared between the 2 protocols were .60% similar among sites in South Africa and .54% similar among sites in the Iberian Peninsula (Bray-Curtis similarity), and no significant differences were found between protocols (Multiresponse Permutation Procedure). Ordination based on Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling grouped macroinvertebrate samples on the basis of site rather than protocol. Biotic indices generated with the 2 protocols at each site did not differ. Thus, both RBPs produced equivalent results, and both were able to distinguish between biotic communities (mountain streams vs foothills) and detect water-quality impairment, regardless of differences in sampling equipment, segregation of habitats, and sampling and sorting procedures. Our results indicate that sampling a single habitat may be sufficient for assessing water quality, but a multihabitat approach to sampling is recommended where intrinsic variability of macroinvertebrate assemblages is high (e.g., in undisturbed sites in regions with Mediterranean climates). The RBP of choice should depend on whether the objective is routine biomonitoring of water quality or autecological or faunistic studies.