Beach wrack macrovegetation index for assessing coastal phytobenthic biodiversity; pp. 78–87Full article in PDF format | doi: 10.3176/proc.2016.1.08
The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires assessment of environmental status in relation to changing human pressures. In this study taxonomic composition of beach wrack is proposed as an indicator for the assessment of coastal sea benthic macrovegetation biodiversity within the context of the MSFD. Based on the relationships between eutrophication metrics and taxonomic structure of benthic vegetation, the Beach Wrack Macrovegetation Index (BMI) was developed and tested as a case study of the northern Gulf of Riga (Baltic Sea). The index showed a higher benthic biodiversity in areas with higher water transparency, lower nutrient concentrations, and lower Baltic Sea Pressure Index values. Compared to commonly used metrics, the BMI is an easy-to-use and cost-effective method, which can be further incorporated within a citizen science project. The method can be recommended for the areas that are not affected by strong tides or persistent currents. Boreal summer is the preferred season for sampling because then the impact of hydrodynamic effects on the structure of stormcast is the lowest.
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