The use of biotic indices has garnered attention during the last decade due to its extensive application in evaluating ecological quality status (EcoQS) of marine waters and estuaries. Three seasonal surveys were conducted in the Kundalika estuary, India to evaluate the ecostatus using five benthic indices and comparing their effectiveness considering the estuarine salinity gradient and seasonality. All indices gave divergent results displaying a wide range of classes (good to bad) across salinity zones and seasons. Comparatively, M-AMBI discriminated the EcoQS suitably than other indices. Hence, a seasonally averaged approach for M-AMBI was proposed to obtain a final mean EcoQS which assigned moderate status to the euhaline and poly-mesohaline zones and poor status to the oligohaline zone. Considering the high degree of spatial heterogeneity and seasonality in the estuary, the monsoon data was found to lower the EcoQS due to natural stress in some cases; the exclusion of the monsoon season resulted in a more valid ecostatus. Therefore, this approach which combines information from the non-monsoon seasons stands out in providing a useful basis for ecological management by scrutinizing responses of macrobenthos. Also, we suggest salinity zone-wise evaluation for more effective classification chiefly in tropical monsoonal estuaries. An effort to establish a final EcoQS was performed; however, future in-depth studies are necessary to ascertain the reliability of the successful biotic index (M-AMBI) in estuaries with different stressors.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research – Springer Journals
Published: May 30, 2018
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