A fish-based index of estuarine ecological quality incorporating information from both scientific fish survey and experts knowledge

A. Tableau, H. Drouineau, C. Delpech, M Pierre, J. Lobry, O. Le Pape, Jan Breine, M. Lepage

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    In the Water Framework Directive (European Union) context, a multimetric fish based index is required to
    assess the ecological status of French estuarine water bodies. A first indicator called ELFI was developed,
    however similarly to most indicators, the method to combine the core metrics was rather subjective and
    this indicator does not provide uncertainty assessment. Recently, a Bayesian method to build indicators
    was developed and appeared relevant to select metrics sensitive to global anthropogenic pressure, to
    combine them objectively in an index and to provide a measure of uncertainty around the diagnostic.
    Moreover, the Bayesian framework is especially well adapted to integrate knowledge and information
    not included in surveys data. In this context, the present study used this Bayesian method to build a multimetric
    fish based index of ecological quality accounting for experts knowledge. The first step consisted in
    elaborating a questionnaire to collect assessments from different experts then in building relevant priors
    to summarize those assessments for each water body. Then, these priors were combined with surveys
    data in the index to complement the diagnosis of quality. Finally, a comparison between diagnoses using
    only fish data and using both information sources underlined experts knowledge contribution. Regarding
    the results, 68% of the diagnosis matched demonstrating that including experts knowledge thanks to the
    Bayesian framework confirmed or slightly modified the diagnosis provided by survey data but influenced
    uncertainty around the diagnostic and appeared especially relevant in terms of risk management.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEcological Indicators
    Pages (from-to)147-156
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Thematic list

    • Environment

    EWI Biomedical sciences

    • B003-ecology

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