Progress: Three tier assessment tool
Three assessment methods were developed for ecological river quality assessment in the Hindu Kush – Himalaya region representing three levels of precision:
1. The HKHscreening (rapid field bioassessment method) is a basic screening method that is useable with or without software. This method also serves as an “early warning” method to identify quickly areas for urgent attention or to set priorities for the selection of sites for detailed investigation. Basically the assessment procedure is based on sensoric criteria (like presence of water smell, growth of algae, reduction phenomena, etc.) and the benthic macroinvertebrate that can be identified in the field with a special focus on the bioindicative value of benthic invertebrates.
2. The HKHbios (score based assessment method) is a score-based assessment method on mostly higher taxonomic bioindication units (genus, family, order) that needs only simple data processing. The benthic invertebrate taxa are scored according to their sensitivity to stressors. The higher the score the more a taxon is sensitive to stress, mainly river pollution.
3. Finally, the HKHindex (multi-metric assessment method) is a scientifically sound method for the detailed analysis of biological data based on the best available taxonomic resolution. The calculation of the multi-metric index needs a more sophisticated calculation tool. The aim of a multimetric index is to assess ecological river quality with the help of different biotic measures. These biotic measures are called metrics. Metrics are e.g. the number of mayflies within the sample. The characteristic of metrics is that they are responsive to deterioration of river quality, e.g. pollution, hydro-morphological impact or landuse of the floodplain. From a group of core metrics derive the multimetric index, i.e. a single value standing for an integrated ecological assessment.
All three methods can easily be applied with the help of the » ECODAT management tool. One only has to enter the taxalist of a given sampling site in the HKHdip programme. Then, the software will do all the necessary work steps and calculates the results of the three assessment methods automatically. After the project completion the three assessment methods, including the according manuals will be freely downloadable from the ASSESS-HKH website.