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Estonian Journal of Ecology

Assessment of water quality in a large lowland river (Narva, Estonia/Russia) using a new Hungarian potamoplanktic method; pp. 243–258

Full article in PDF format | doi: 10.3176/eco.2010.4.01

Kai Piirsoo, Peeter Pall, Arvo Tuvikene, Malle Viik, Sirje Vilbaste


Phytoplankton is one of the four biological elements used for the assessment of the water quality of surface water bodies. In rivers phytoplankton-based assessment of water quality has not been conducted in Estonia up to now. The aim of the present study was to test a new Hungarian potamoplanktic method for the assessment of the water quality of the Narva River, a large river on the Estonian–Russian border. For testing the method, algal species in the phytoplankton of the Narva River were classified into functional groups. Then the Ecological Quality Ratio (EQR) was calculated and its value was compared with the corresponding values for different water quality classes given in the literature. The mean value of the EQR for the Narva River revealed seasonal variation: in most cases it indicated ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ quality classes in spring and summer and ‘very bad’ quality class in autumn. The median value for the vegetation period of 2001–2008 indicated ‘moderate’ quality class. Variation in the functional groups of phytoplankton and in the EQR values reflected the seasonal dynamics of phytoplankton and the impact of Lake Peipsi. Comparison of the results of the assessments made by using the phytoplankton EQR and benthic diatom indices revealed agreement between the two metrics in the summer period: both were sensitive to the water quality and indicated at least ‘good’ quality class.

The new Hungarian method appears to be suitable for the assessment of water quality in this Estonian large river. However, the numerical boundaries of the EQR for different water quality classes should be specified in the future on the basis of a larger Estonian phytoplankton database.

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