Hydromorphology - major results and conclusions from the STAR project

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The major results and conclusions of the two papers in the hydromorphology section of the Hydrobiologia special issue on the EU STAR project are summarised. Several key findings have emerged from this research. Firstly, the hydromorphological characteristics of rivers between different geographical regions of Europe were found to vary considerably with rivers in each region possessing distinctive hydromorphological characteristics. Secondly, the hydromorphological attributes that most strongly influence two existing hydromorphological indices (the Habitat Quality Assessment and the Habitat Modification Score) were identified and attention was drawn to the accurate definition and recording of these attributes in field surveys and training courses. Thirdly, links between hydromorphological characteristics and macroinvertebrate quality indices were investigated. Two types of bank modification (resectioning and reinforcement) were significantly correlated with two biotic indices (EPT taxa and MTS), while channel modifications were negatively correlated with ASPT. While biotic indices were often strongly correlated with Habitat Quality Assessment they were less strongly related to Habitat Modification Score suggesting that physical habitat diversity may be more important in determining macroinvertebrate community structure than morphological alteration. The papers in this section provide important underpinning research for the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive. In both papers suggestions are made for further research on the hydromorphology of European rivers.

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