Development of the HKHbios: a new biotic score to assess the river quality in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya
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Within the ASSESS-HKH project (Development of an Assessment System to Evaluate the Ecological Status of Rivers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region—a research project funded by the European Union; contract number: INCO-CT-2005-003659) a benthic invertebrate-based scoring system (HKHbios; Hindu Kush-Himalayan biotic score) was developed. The development was based on multi-habitat samples from 198 sampling sites located in five ecoregions and five Asian countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan) taken in two different seasons (pre- and post-monsoon). Environmental and biological screening data were used to select macro-invertebrates as indicators for the ecological river quality. Taxa scores were assigned based on the range and distribution patterns of taxa amongst different degrees of impact and on available autecological information. In total, 199 taxa were scored for the HKHbios, which is calculated a weighted average score per taxon (ASPT). The range of the index values under different degrees of stress was evaluated and a five-class quality assessment system was generated for each ecoregion. Correlation analysis between the HKHbios, 38 selected environmental parameters and complex PCA gradients were used to test the response of the HKHbios to different kinds of impact.
KeywordsBenthic invertebrates River quality assessment Biotic score Bio-indicator Organic pollution ASSESS-HKH
We would like to thank the European Commission for the financial support to the ASSESS-HKH project (contract number: INCO-CT-2005-003659). In addition we thank all institutions from the partner countries for their contributions to the development of the HKHbios, namely the National Environment Commission Secretariat (NECS) in Thimphu, Bhutan, the Department of Water Resources Engineering and the Department of Civil Engineering at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Alternate Hydro Energy Centre (AHEC) of the Indian Institute of Technology (IITRoorkee) in Roorkee, India, the Aquatic Ecology Centre (AEC) at the Kathmandu University in Dhulikhel, Nepal, the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu, Nepal, the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources in Islamabad, Pakistan, and the Department of Botany and Zoology at the Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Finally, we thank Wolfram Graf (BOKU, Vienna) and two anonymous reviewers for various useful comments and recommendations.
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