Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Effects of anthropogenic salinisation on the ecological status of macroinvertebrate assemblages in the Werra River (Thuringia, Germany).

Abstract

For more than 100 years, the Werra River has been severely affected by intensive salinisation caused by potash fertilizer industries. We show considerable differences in macroinvertebrate assemblages between reaches without salinisation impact and downstream reaches with intense anthropogenic salinisation in the Werra. This is true for almost all biological metrics relevant for ecological status classification under the EU-Water Framework Directive (EU-WFD) (European Community, Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, No. L 327/1, of 22 December 2000) and diversity measures (taxon richness, evenness). Macroinvertebrate assemblages at salinisation sites were completely dominated by three halophile neobiotic macroinvertebrate species (Gammarus tigrinus, Corophium lacustre and Potamopyrgus antipodarum). We compared anthropogenically salinised sites from the Werra with disturbed but non-salinised sites from the Werra and other German rivers. We used biological metrics developed for classifying the ecological status according to the EU-WFD. This comparison indicated a severe degradation at salinisation sites on the Werra and these fell into the worst ecological status class 'bad' according to the EU-WFD. Multivariate statistical analyses revealed anthropogenic salinisation as a key factor causing the differences in composition of macroinvertebrate assemblages in the Werra between salinisation and reference sites. Analyses of the long-term presence-absence data of macroinvertebrate assemblages indicated no marked improvement in the ecological status in the past 20 years.