Development and use of a zooplankton index to monitor wetland quality in the Laurentian Great Lakes basin

Lougheed, V.L. and Chow-Fraser, P.
Ecological Applications
(2002) 12(2):474-486


Recent interest in biological monitoring as an ecosystem assessment tool has stimulated the development of a number of biotic indices designed to aid in the evaluation of ecosystem integrity; however, zooplankton have rarely been included in biomonitoring schemes. We developed a wetland zooplankton index (WZI) based on water quality and zooplankton associations with aquatic vegetation (emergent, submergent, and floating-leaf) that could be used to assess wetland quality, in particular in marshes of the Laurentian Great Lakes basin. Seventy coastal and inland marshes were sampled during 1995–2000; these ranged from pristine, macrophyte-dominated systems, to highly degraded systems containing only a fringe of emergent vegetation. The index was developed based on the results of a partial canonical correspondence analysis (pCCA), which indicated that plant- associated taxa such as chydorid and macrothricid cladocerans were common in high-quality wetlands, while more open-water, pollution-tolerant taxa (e.g., Brachionus, Moina) dom- inated degraded wetlands. The WZI was found to be more useful than indices of diversity (H

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