There is a pressing need to integrate biological, biomarkers and functional indicators currently used in running waters intopractical bioassessment procedures. The sensitivity in the detection and the precision in quantifying the impact of multiple stressors occurring in the lotic systems increases significantly by integrating monitoring techniques that cover a wide spectrum of biological organization, starting from cellular and sub-cellular observation, proceeding to community level and finally reaching functional processes.
The main purpose of this project is to overcome the disadvantages resulting from the fragmented application of separate techniques by producing reliable metrics and indices that better reflect cause-effect associations and are also ecologically relevant. Further, such metrics and indices should exhibit low variability in relation to the same stressor and reflect short term responses but also they should be of a relatively permanent character. This “desideratum” requires the interaction of different teams with established expertise in each field, dealing not only with bioindicators or biomarkers, but also covering different organism based approaches, such as genotoxical, physiological or behavioural techniques or communities, ranging from microorganisms to vertebrates.
Field studies carried out during this project will be conducted in the same reaches in close participation with team members; this will provide us with the opportunity to establish the links from all levels between the indicators and various types of contamination.