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Diatoms : an ecoregional indicator of nutrients, organic mater and micropollutants pollution

Abstract : Diatoms are ubiquitous microalgae of an extreme diversity. This made them good indicators of aquatic ecosystems quality and they are used since 50 years for this purpose. Since year 2000, the European Water Framework Directive requires their use to assess the ecological quality of watercourses. A typological framework has to be used in order to compare comparable rivers between each other, that is, rivers of the same bioclimatic regions, flowing on the same geological substrate at similar altitudes. Various ecoregional classifications were defined on the basis of these parameters. We showed at a scale covering 4 countries (Spain, France, Italy and Switzerland) and at a regional scale (north-east France) that ecoregions and geology are determinant to explain communities. Parameters characterizing pollution were less important. Unlike some authors, we did not observe any homogenization of the communities when pollution level was increasing. Moreover, we did not observe geographically restricted communities: this would enable to aggregate ecoregions geographically distinct but presenting the same physical characteristics. Diatoms display a very important specific diversity which can be a problem for their routine use. We showed that when increasing determination precision (from sub-division to species), pollution assessment performances were increasing but much less than the number of taxa. Assessment performances between genus and species are similar anyway, whereas there are ten time more species than genera. We also showed that using simplifying metrics (life-forms, ecological guilds) enable assessing nutrient level as well as diatom indices based on species. These metrics bring additional information about biofilms structure that is not available with species data. At last, micropollutants pollution in rivers is of increasing concern to citizens. We hypothesized that diatoms could be good candidates to assess herbicide pressure. Four experiments lasting 2 months were conducted in lotic mesocosms. We showed that diatoms surrounded by thick exopolysaccharid matrices were more resistant to dissolved pesticides. On the over hand, diatoms presenting an important cell surface contact with water were disadvantaged. This kind of metric could be used in situ at a larger scale. We conclude on the interest to integrate such metrics to diatom bioassessment. But we also strength the importance to cross phylogeny and ecology to better understand which environmental pressure forced diatoms adapt. If these pressures can be related to anthropogenic pressures, diatom bioassessment will be improved.
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  • HAL Id : tel-00748541, version 1
  • PRODINRA : 244261

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Frédéric Rimet. Diatoms : an ecoregional indicator of nutrients, organic mater and micropollutants pollution. Sciences agricoles. Université de Grenoble, 2012. Français. ⟨NNT : 2012GRENA017⟩. ⟨tel-00748541⟩

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