Relations between water physico-chemistry and benthic algal communities in a northern Canadian watershed: defining reference conditions using multiple descriptors of community structure.
Of the many groups of organisms proposed for use in biomonitoring, assemblages of fish, algae, and benthic macroinvertebrates are the most commonly selected. Purported advantages and disadvantages of using these groups, along with those of zooplankton, were assembled from 65 different publications and websites. From these, 13 categories of advantages and nine of disadvantages were created. The diversity of the assemblage and its importance to the ecosystem were reported as advantages in >20% of citations for each group; these similarities suggest that some redundancy exists among the different groups in terms of these features. Likewise, sampling difficulties and lack of analytic metrics were disadvantages listed in >20% of citations for each group. Few reported advantages (e.g. recreational value of fish) or disadvantages (e.g. short generation time of algae) were unique for a particular assemblage. The validity of reported advantages and disadvantages were sometimes region specific, other times incorrect. The choice of which assemblage is most appropriate for a biomonitoring program ultimately depends on the characteristics of the area to be studied and the program objectives.