Environmental Management

, Volume 64, Issue 5, pp 661–673 | Cite as

Unified Multimetric Index for the Evaluation of the Biological Condition of Streams in Southern Brazil Based on Fish and Macroinvertebrate Assemblages

  • Renata RuaroEmail author
  • Éder André Gubiani
  • Almir Manoel Cunico
  • Janet Higuti
  • Yara Moretto
  • Pitágoras Augusto Piana


We developed MMI models that combine responses of fish and benthic macroinvertebrates for the evaluation of the biotic integrity of streams. The MMI was developed using a dataset covering stream sampling sites in the South of Brazil. Reference streams were identified based on the physical and chemical conditions and riparian vegetation. Thirty-four metrics were calculated and evaluated for their range, redundancy, and responsiveness to the environmental perturbation. We applied a robust approach to select the most sensitive metrics and MMI models based on the complexity and ability of the index in distinguishing impacted and reference sites. The four best MMI models selected are composed of different combinations of the eight metrics: % fish herbivorous, fish evenness, fish abundance, % macroinvertebrate shredder; % macroinvertebrate predator; % macroinvertebrate tolerant, % macroinvertebrate swimmer, and % macroinvertebrate burrower. All of the MMI models selected presented good performance in distinguishing reference streams from those impacted by different forms of land use. This study is one of the few attempts to use more than one biological assemblage in a single-multimetric index. Accordingly, we believe that the unified MMI we developed could be a useful tool to assist in the conservation and management of water resources in Neotropical regions, specially, in the implementation of ecological integrity tools more cost-effectively.


Aquatic environments Biological monitoring Biotic indices Benthic and fish assemblages Metric selection 



We would like to thank Fundação Parque Tecnológico Itaipu (FPTI) for granting the first author a scholarship. The researchers and technicians of Grupo de Pesquisas em Recursos Pesqueiros e Limnologia—Gerpel and of Laboratório de Ecologia, Pesca e Ictiologia—LEPI supported us during the present study. We would also like to thank Jhony Ferry Mendonça da Silva for his help in developing the location map. Finally, we would like to thank MCT/CNPq/CT-Hidro (Proc. 555185/2006-0) for funding the Pirapó watershed project. ÉAG is grateful to CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) for the continuous research productivity grants (PQ Process Number: 308578/2017-1). This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—Brasil (CAPES)—Finance Code 001.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Appendix A
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Appendix B
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Appendix C
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Appendix D
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Appendix E
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Appendix F


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-graduação em Conservação e Manejo de Recursos Naturais, Universidade Estadual do Oeste do ParanáBairro UniversitárioCascavelBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-graduação em Ecologia de Ambientes Aquáticos ContinentaisUniversidade Estadual de MaringáMaringáBrazil
  3. 3.Grupo de Pesquisas em Recursos Pesqueiros e LimnologiaUniversidade Estadual do Oeste do ParanáToledoBrazil
  4. 4.Laboratório de Ecologia, Pesca e IctiologiaUniversidade Federal do ParanáPalotinaBrazil
  5. 5.Programa de Pós-graduação em Aquicultura e Desenvolvimento SustentávelUniversidade Federal do ParanáPalotinaBrazil

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