The number of novel man-made hazardous substances produced by industries is increasing year after year, resulting in conventional discharge standards ineffective to preserve the natural ecological environment. A novel index, ecological co-inhabitance index (ECI), was proposed in order to evaluate the river ecosystem sensitively. The river benthic community with a high value of ECI is formed in the healthy ecosystem where benthic animals can share resources in the river environment efficiently, keep the ecosystem functioning, and give the least adverse effect to lower reaches of the river. In order to clarify the characteristic of ECI, the relationship between ECI and water quality in the river was investigated using the data on benthic animals obtained from 17 various rivers. Results of this investigation indicated that ECI could synthetically evaluate the river environment without a bias toward a specific water quality. Moreover, ECI had the significant correlation coefficients with diversity index, biotic index and pollution index at significance level 0.05, respectively. Therefore, ECI is a promising index for managing the river ecosystem.

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