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Bio-indication and suitable indicators are feasible to detect the predominant factors driving successful restoration. To restore the ecological function of rivers, it is crucial to detect the predominant factors driving successful restoration. Bio-indicators are useful for monitoring the effect of changing environmental conditions on surface water (Bellinger & Sigee 2010). By analyzing the response of bio-indicators, the influence of potential stressors on ecological integrity can be deduced. Bio-indicators are easy and cost-effective tools for monitoring changes of environment and ecosystem integrity. At present, fish, invertebrates, macrophytes, and algae are commonly used to monitor changes in freshwater ecosystems (Friberg et al. 2011). The evaluation systems of human impacts on aquatic systems are listed in Table 1. These evaluation systems can be constructed by exposing target species to ambient conditions (Schubert 1991). In this context, the paper aims to analyze some of the theoretical aspects of bio-indicators and to provide a review on the use of aquatic indicators. This part evaluates the methodological applications and their advantages/disadvantages with respect to traditional surveying methods.

Table 1

The bio-indication assessment tools and indicators in water ecology of different water types

IndicatorAssessment toolTopicLiterature
Freshwater fish Index of Biological Integrity Classification of river ecological status Karr (1981)  
Fish-based evaluation system for running waters Classification of river ecological status Dußling et al. (2004)  
European Fish Index Classification of river ecological status FAME Consortium (2004)  
Fish Regions Index Classification of river ecological status Dußling et al. (2005)  
Macro-invertebrates Biological Monitoring Working Party Organic pollution Armitage et al. (1983)  
Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera Water quality Lenat (1988)  
Species at Risk Toxic pollution Liess & Von Der Ohe (2005)  
Saprobic Index Saprobic status of rivers Meier et al. (2006)  
Macroinvertebrate-based evaluation system for running waters Classification of river ecological status Meier et al. (2006)  
Macroinvertebrate-based nutrient biotic index Measure of nutrient enrichment Smith et al. (2007)  
Phytobenthos Acidification Index Periphyton River acidification Schneider & Lindstrøm (2009)  
Periphyton Index of Trophic Status Trophic status Schneider & Lindstrøm (2011)  
Macrophytes Trophic Index of Macrophytes Water quality, trophic status Schneider & Melzer (2003)  
Comprehensive indicators Macrophyte and Phytobenthos Classification of river ecological status Schaumburg et al. (2006)  
Rapid Bioassessment Protocols Classification of river ecological status Barbour et al. (1999)  
IndicatorAssessment toolTopicLiterature
Freshwater fish Index of Biological Integrity Classification of river ecological status Karr (1981)  
Fish-based evaluation system for running waters Classification of river ecological status Dußling et al. (2004)  
European Fish Index Classification of river ecological status FAME Consortium (2004)  
Fish Regions Index Classification of river ecological status Dußling et al. (2005)  
Macro-invertebrates Biological Monitoring Working Party Organic pollution Armitage et al. (1983)  
Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera Water quality Lenat (1988)  
Species at Risk Toxic pollution Liess & Von Der Ohe (2005)  
Saprobic Index Saprobic status of rivers Meier et al. (2006)  
Macroinvertebrate-based evaluation system for running waters Classification of river ecological status Meier et al. (2006)  
Macroinvertebrate-based nutrient biotic index Measure of nutrient enrichment Smith et al. (2007)  
Phytobenthos Acidification Index Periphyton River acidification Schneider & Lindstrøm (2009)  
Periphyton Index of Trophic Status Trophic status Schneider & Lindstrøm (2011)  
Macrophytes Trophic Index of Macrophytes Water quality, trophic status Schneider & Melzer (2003)  
Comprehensive indicators Macrophyte and Phytobenthos Classification of river ecological status Schaumburg et al. (2006)  
Rapid Bioassessment Protocols Classification of river ecological status Barbour et al. (1999)  

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