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Supplementary information files for Using invertebrate functional traits to improve flow variability assessment within European rivers

posted on 30.06.2022, 09:26 authored by Alex Laini, Gemma Burgazzi, Richard Chadd, Judy England, Iakovos Tziortzis, Massimo Ventrucci, Paolo Vezza, Paul WoodPaul Wood, Pierluigi Viaroli, Simone GuareschiSimone Guareschi

Supplementary files for article Using invertebrate functional traits to improve flow variability assessment within European rivers.

Rivers are among the most threatened ecosystems worldwide and are experiencing rapid biodiversity loss. Flow alteration due to climate change, water abstraction and augmentation is a severe stressor on many aquatic communities. Macroinvertebrates are widely used for biomonitoring river ecosystems although current taxonomic approaches used to characterise ecological responses to flow have limitations in terms of generalisation across biogeographical regions. A new macroinvertebrate trait-based index, Flow-T, derived from ecological functional information (flow velocity preferences) currently available for almost 500 invertebrate taxa at the European scale is presented. The index was tested using data from rivers spanning different biogeographic and hydro-climatic regions from the UK, Cyprus and Italy. The performance of Flow-T at different spatial scales and its relationship with an established UK flow assessment tool, the Lotic-invertebrate Index for Flow Evaluation (LIFE), was assessed to determine the transferability of the approach internationally. Flow-T was strongly correlated with the LIFE index using both presence-absence and abundance weighted data from all study areas (r varying from 0.46 to 0.96). When applied at the river reach scale, Flow-T was effective in identifying communities associated with distinct mesohabitats characterised by their hydraulic characteristics (e.g., pools, riffles, glides). Flow-T can be derived using both presence/absence and abundance data and can be easily adapted to varying taxonomic resolutions. The trait-based approach facilitates research using the entire European invertebrate fauna and can potentially be applied in regions where information on taxa-specific flow velocity preferences is not currently available. The inter-regional and continental scale transferability of Flow-T may help water resource managers gauge the effects of changes in flow regime on instream communities at varying spatial scales.


Emilia-Romagna Region and ANBI Emilia-Romagna

Royal Society-Newton International Fellowship at Loughborough University (NIF\R1\180346)



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • Geography and Environment