A technical guide to develop a statistically valid fish-based index in compliance with the water framework directive: an evaluation for Turkish freshwaters

Document Type : Review


1 Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ankara University, Tandoğan, 06100, Ankara, Turkey

2 Instituut voor Natuur-en Bosonderzoek, Dwersbos 28, Linkebeek, 1630, Brussels, Belgium

3 Instituut voor Natuur-en Bosonderzoek, Havenlaan 88 bus 73, 1000, Brussels, Belgium



Fish are considered as reliable indicators of environmental quality and during the last decades several fish-based indices have been developed to assess the ecological status of water bodies in compliance with the water framework directive. The high number of fish species with a high degree of endemism, lack of knowledge on ecological requirements of certain fish species, absence of a complete dataset for reference conditions, and great variation among freshwater types complicate the development of fish-based indices for Turkish freshwaters. However, this is still possible using statistical approaches. This paper presents a practical guide which is mainly based on the recent approaches that have frequently been used in other countries worldwide. Data collection, metric selection and scoring, ecological quality ratio (EQR) calculation and validation steps are described and discussed with respect to the limitations and available data for Turkish freshwaters. The guide documented here, with minor adjustments, has a potential to be adopted as a fish-based assessment approach for the ecological status in freshwaters in Turkey and adjacent countries.