Implementation of the Water Framework Directive: Lessons Learned and Future Perspectives for an Ecologically Meaningful Classification Based on Phytoplankton of the Status of Greek Lakes, Mediterranean Region

Moustaka-Gouni, Maria, Sommer, Ulrich, Economou-Amilli, Athena, Arhonditsis, George B., Katsiapi, Matina, Papastergiadou, Eva, Kormas, Konstantinos A., Vardaka, Elisabeth, Karayanni, Hera and Papadimitriou, Theodoti (2019) Implementation of the Water Framework Directive: Lessons Learned and Future Perspectives for an Ecologically Meaningful Classification Based on Phytoplankton of the Status of Greek Lakes, Mediterranean Region Environmental Management, 64 (6). pp. 675-688. DOI 10.1007/s00267-019-01226-y.

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Abstract

The enactment of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) initiated scientific efforts to develop reliable methods for comparing prevailing lake conditions against reference (or nonimpaired) states, using the state of a set biological elements. Drawing a distinction between impaired and natural conditions can be a challenging exercise. Another important aspect is to ensure that water quality assessment is comparable among the different Member States. In this context, the present paper offers a constructive critique of the practices followed during the WFD implementation in Greece by pinpointing methodological weaknesses and knowledge gaps that undermine our ability to classify the ecological quality of Greek lakes. One of the pillars of WDF is a valid lake typology that sets ecological standards transcending geographic regions and national boundaries. The national typology of Greek lakes has failed to take into account essential components. WFD compliance assessments based on the descriptions of phytoplankton communities are oversimplified and as such should be revisited. Exclusion of most chroococcal species from the analysis of cyanobacteria biovolume in Greek lakes/reservoirs and most reservoirs in Spain, Portugal, and Cyprus is not consistent with the distribution of those taxa in lakes. Similarly, the total biovolume reference values and the indices used in classification schemes reflect misunderstandings of WFD core principles. This hampers the comparability of ecological status across Europe and leads to quality standards that are too relaxed to provide an efficient target for the protection of Greek/transboundary lakes such as the ancient Lake Megali Prespa.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Water Framework Directive; Lakes; Mediterranean; Ecological classification; Phytoplankton
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-B Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1007/s00267-019-01226-y
ISSN: 0364-152X
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2019 10:18
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2019 10:18
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/48492

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