Quality of Rivers: Comparison of Hydro-Morphological, Physical-Chemical and Biological Methods

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The study was performed in five fourth-order tributaries of the Bystrzyca Lubelska River (Eastern Poland, Lublin Upland), differing in the degree of river-bed transformation and level of pollution. Hydro-morphological methods (descriptive method by Ilnicki and Lewandowski - IL, and index method by Oglecki and Pawlat - OP) and biological indices based on the composition of zoobenthos (Diversity - D, and index based on proportions between the density of Oligochaeta and Chironomidae - O/Ch) permitted distinguishing of four classes, from II to V. The distinguishing of only two quality classes (III and IV) was possible by means of physical-chemical methods and by benthic index BMWP_PL. Those two methods seem to show the lowest sensitivity to the spatial variability of the environment quality. The BMWP_PL index was the least sensitive to year-to-year environmental changes, and O/Ch was the most sensitive. Relatively high conformity was obtained between hydro-morphological assessments performed by means of the OP and IL methods. Results obtained by means of these tools weakly corresponded with the physical-chemical assessments. The latter assessments were the most similar to those obtained by means of the BMWP_PL (degree of similarity = 57%) and D (47%) indices, and considerably less in the case of O/Ch (36%). The BMWP_PL and D indices better corresponded with the results of the hydro-morphological assessment performed by means of the IL method than with those performed by means of the OP method while D index showed a reverse pattern. The O/CH index proved useful for the assessment of the degree of organic pollution of the river’s water, but not the sediments.

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