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Assessing ecological quality of shallow lakes: Does knowledge of transparency suffice?

  • E Peeters
  • Rob Franken
  • Erik Jeppesen
  • Brian Moss
  • Eloy Becares
  • Lars-Anders Hansson
  • Susana Romo
  • Timo Kairesalo
  • Elisabeth Gross
  • Ellen van Donk
  • Tina Noges
  • Ken Irvine
  • R Kornijow
  • Marten Scheffer
Publishing year: 2009
Language: English
Pages: 89-96
Publication/Series: Basic and Applied Ecology
Volume: 10
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires that all aquatic ecosystems in their member states

should reach ‘good’ ecological quality by 2015. To assess ecological quality, the WFD requires the definition of

reference conditions using biological, physical and chemical indicators and the assignment of each water body to one

of five quality classes using these indicators. Elaborate assessment schemes using large sets of variables are now being

developed. Here we address the question whether all this is really needed and what the simplest assessment approach

would be for the case of shallow lakes. We explore the relationships between the quality class assigned to a lake by

experts in shallow lake ecology and a rich set of biological, physical, and chemical data. Multinomial logistic regression

analyses were carried out based on data from 86 shallow lakes throughout Europe that were sampled in 2000 and/or

2001. Ecological quality of shallow lakes judged by experts was strongly correlated to physical and chemical variables

associated with light regime and nutrients and much less to biological variables.

Our regression model showed that ecological quality of this set of shallow lakes judged by experts could be predicted

quite well from water transparency expressed as Secchi depth and that other variables did not contribute to it significantly. According to the WFD, lakes should at least have a ‘good’ ecological quality. Quality judged by experts

and predicted quality were similar for 78% of the lakes with respect to meeting this standard. As a cautionary note we

stress that Secchi depth alone will be a less useful indicator if effects of stressors other than eutrophication (e.g. lake

acidification and toxic pollution) are to be considered.


  • Ecology
  • Restoration
  • Prediction
  • Multinomial logistic regression
  • Modelling
  • Lake management
  • Expert judgement
  • Eutrophication
  • Secchi depth
  • Water framework directive


  • ISSN: 1618-0089
Lars-Anders Hansson
E-mail: lars-anders [dot] hansson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Aquatic ecology

+46 46 222 41 69






Research group

Aquatic Ecology

Other projects I´m involved in

Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor

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