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Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

New sensitivity grades for Australian river macroinvertebrates

Marine and Freshwater Research 54(2) 95 - 103
Published: 04 June 2003


The SIGNAL biotic index for river macroinvertebrates, originally developed and tested in eastern Australia, was revised for application to the entire continent. Macroinvertebrate survey data from the National River Health Program were used to set grade numbers between 1 and 10 to represent the water-quality sensitivities of 210 taxa. Grades were assigned at the taxonomic levels customarily used by government agencies (predominantly family level) and by community groups (mainly order). A new index version using these grades, SIGNAL2, was correlated with water temperature, turbidity, electrical conductivity, alkalinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, total nitrogen and total phosphorus. Because of natural spatial variation in water quality, index scores need to be interpreted in a local context or against site-specific predictions generated by the Australian River Assessment System (AUSRIVAS).

Keywords: bioassessment, biological monitoring, biotic index, pollution, water quality.

© CSIRO 2003

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