Characterisation of reference conditions for rare or unusual river typologies

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Resource or Project Abstract

The Water Framework Directive is the key EU legislation requiring Member States to improve and sustainably manage and protect water quality in all surface water bodies. Under the WFD, all EU Member States are obliged to develop a river typology upon which type-specific reference conditions can be defined to enable accurate evaluation of ecological status. Ecological status is determined on the basis of deviation from these type-specific reference conditions. Four rare river types were not adequately represented in the development of the existing national typology and so it is not known whether they were sufficiently characterised by the current 12 national river types or represent distinct types. Rare river types are defined here as stretches of river that present naturally challenging combinations of environmental conditions for aquatic biota potentially limiting the range of organisms that occur there. The four potentially rare river types identified as being poorly represented or in some cases omitted entirely from the development of the national types were: 1) groundwater-dominated rivers; 2) highly calcareous rivers with calcium precipitation, 3) low conductivity, naturally acidic rivers; and 4) rivers strongly influenced by lakes. To determine if they were adequately charcterised by current river types, the biological communities of five potential reference sites from each rare type were analysed alongside the data used to define the national typology. Results showed that potential rare river types did not host communities sufficiently distinct from the national types to justify defining new national river types. The effectiveness of current assessment metrics was assessed across a gradient of pollution. The findings indicated that small adjustments in terms of indicator taxa may be needed in the application of some of the metrics. Overall, this work provides a solid foundation for making a series of decisions to improve assessment of the true ecological status of sites that fall under these headings.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Edel Hannigan
University College Dublin

Dr Mary Kelly-Quinn
University College Dublin

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Attachment Name and Download Link
Att 1    RARETYPE_Raw_diatomData_2014-2015.xlsx   (0.14 Mb)
Att 2    RARETYPE_Chemistry_2014-2015.xlsx   (0.03 Mb)
Att 3    RARETYPE_Complete_Phytobenthos_2014-15.xlsx   (0.12 Mb)
Att 4    RARETYPE_Complete_Raw_Macroinvertebrate_data_2014-2015.xls   (0.95 Mb)
Att 5    RARETYPE_Macrophyte_data_2014.xlsx   (0.03 Mb)

Suggested Citation Information

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Author(s)Hannigan, E. Kelly-Quinn, M.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationCharacterisation of reference conditions for rare or unusual river typologies
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL
Unique Identifierfced8a0f-540e-11e6-ab63-005056ae0019
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2024-06-21

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Hannigan, E. Kelly-Quinn, M.   "Characterisation of reference conditions for rare or unusual river typologies". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland (Last Accessed: 2024-06-21)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL
Resource Keywordstypology, ecological status, lake outlets, calcium precitpitate, naturally acid, groundwater-dominated, reference conditions
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2013-W-FS-15
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeWater Quality
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceUsage of the data is currently restricted and will not be made publicly available from this website until pending publications have been published.

You must contact the Point of Contacts listed below directly if you wish to obtain and use the data.

In any publication outputs please cite the original producers and owners of this data correctly.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 5
Project Start Date Monday 13th January 2014 (13-01-2014)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Wednesday 9th July 2014 (09-07-2014)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Tuesday 26th May 2015 (26-05-2015)
Published on SAFERWednesday 27th July 2016 (27-07-2016)
Date of Last EditThursday 28th July 2016 at 12:41:23 (28-07-2016)
Datasets or Files Updated On Wednesday 27th July 2016 at 17:02:00 (27-07-2016)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
A total of 40 sites representing the four rare river types were surveyed during this project. For each rare river type five potentially reference condition sites and five impacted sites were surveyed. Sites were chosen based on their underlying geology and landuse and located throughout the country. Naturally acid sites were located in areas with metamorphic/igneous geology while highly calcareous with precipitate and groundwater-dominated sites were located in areas with limestone geology. The majority of the sites surveyed were existing EPA river stations.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
This project follows on from the 2005 RIVTYPE project that developed the current national rivers typology. The need for this project arose from the fact that rare or unusual river types were either absent or poorly represented in the RIVTYPE project and so it was not known if they were adequately characterised by the current river types. In this context rare river types are defined as stretches of river that present naturally challenging combinations of environmental conditions for aquatic biota which may limit the range of organisms that occur there. In order to fulfill our WFD obligation of all surface waters meeting at least good status, it must be established that current reference types and metrics effectively describe and assess these rare river types.
Supplementary Information
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