WP5 - "ASSESS-HKH Methodology" Development

Workpackage-leader: BOKU


The term "method" used in this paragraph is referring to assessment and calculation methods, not to field protocols, which will be dealt with in WP 4.

The objective of WP 5 is to test different methods to assess a test site by its deviation from the stream type-specific reference biocoenoses and to finally develop three methods for assessing the ecological quality of rivers in the HKH region, representing different degrees of precision. Based on the data collected in previous Workpackages, various assessment methods will be tested. These include water management methods currently used in individual HKH states and international methods, such as EU Bioassessment Tools or the USA Rapid Bioassessment Protocols. The resulting "best-fit" assessment methods will be applicable to the set of stream typologies defined in WP 3 and will be titled the "ASSESS-HKH Methodology". A manual will be later produced (in WP 7) to extend application of the ASSESS-HKH Methodology to other stream types.

WP 5 begins with a review of the most important biological stream assessment methods currently used in the HKH states. Selected methods will be refined for further evaluation and inclusion into the ASSESS-HKH Methodology, which should include three methods to provide three levels of increasing discriminatory power to detect the effects of environmental impacts on the benthic biota. The three methods will be described in detail within three tasks.

The ASSESS-HKH Methodology will interlink these three methods to meet the specific requirements of the HKH region, thus offering a practicable and cost-effective solution for reliable indication of stages of ecological deterioration in streams and rivers. The ASSESS-HKH Methodology will also serve as a stressor-based indication procedure to assess different impacts e.g. sewage or other organic pollution, impact of hydropower generation, physical disturbance of the habitat, toxication, soil erosion etc. A manual will be written to describe and apply the ASSESS-HKH Methodology.

Description of work

Task 5.1 Review biological stream assessment methodologies in HKH region: The most important biological stream assessment methods currently used in the HKH states will be collected and evaluated. This serves as a base for further developing the three methods specified within Task 5.2 to 5.4. Existing reports, reviews and manuals will be evaluated; additionally, questionnaires will be distributed to experts in the whole region. The results will be stored in a database.

Task 5.2 Define rapid field bioassessment method: This rapid field bioassessment method is a basic screening method that will be useable with or without software. This method should also serve as an "early warning" method to quickly identify areas for urgent attention or to set priorities for selection of sites for detailed investigation.

Task 5.3 Define score based assessment method: The second method will be a score-based assessment method on higher taxonomic bioindication units (genus, family, order) that need only simple data processing facility (e.g. Excel).

Task 5.4 Define multi-metric assessment method: A scientifically sound multi-metric assessment method will be developed and integrated into a special application software for detailed analysis.
The results achieved in Tasks 5.2 and 5.3 build the data source for the development of a multimetric assessment method. Past European research projects have shown that the assessment of streams using multi-metric procedures must meet the following criteria:

Each ASSESS-HKH partner may adapt the multi-metric approach to the specific conditions of the stream types investigated by that respective partner. This adaptation will be based on the ASSESS-HKH data and should take into consideration the experiences made during field collections. Four stages of deterioration will be defined for each stream type based on the reference biocoenoses; the causes of degradation will be indicated by the system. Correlation analyses between the values calculated by the single indices and the physicochemical, morphological and abiotic parameters will be carried out to test, to which degree a certain index reflects the stage of deterioration.

Task 5.5 Produce methodology manual: the fundamentals and application of the ASSESS-HKH Methodology will be described within a comprehensive manual, which will comprise the whole procedures from site selection to data evaluation.

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