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Issue 1, 2010
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The potential use of fauna and bacteria as ecological indicators for the assessment of groundwater quality

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Abstract

The use of ecological criteria for the assessment of aquatic ecosystem status is routine for surface waters. So far no ecological parameters are considered for the assessment and monitoring of groundwater quality. It has been well known for decades that aquifers are ecosystems harbouring a vast diversity of invertebrates and microorganisms. The growing knowledge on groundwater microbial and faunal communities as well as the molecular and statistical tools available form a solid ground for the development of first ecologically sound assessment schemes. The sensitivity of groundwater communities towards impacts from land use and surface waters is exemplarily demonstrated by a data set of two geologically similar but hydrologically partially separated aquifer systems. Subgroups of the fauna in groundwater (stygobites vs. stygophiles and stygoxenes) successfully indicated elevated nitrate impacts linked to land use activities. Within the microbial communities, impacts from land use are mirrored by high bacterial biodiversity values atypical for pristine groundwater of comparable systems. The data show that there is legitimate hope for the application of ecological criteria for groundwater quality assessment in the future.

Graphical abstract: The potential use of fauna and bacteria as ecological indicators for the assessment of groundwater quality

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Publication details

The article was received on 07 Jul 2009, accepted on 27 Oct 2009 and first published on 24 Nov 2009


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B913484K
Citation: J. Environ. Monit., 2010,12, 242-254
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    The potential use of fauna and bacteria as ecological indicators for the assessment of groundwater quality

    H. Stein, C. Kellermann, S. I. Schmidt, H. Brielmann, C. Steube, S. E. Berkhoff, A. Fuchs, H. J. Hahn, B. Thulin and C. Griebler, J. Environ. Monit., 2010, 12, 242
    DOI: 10.1039/B913484K

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